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ODDS FOR SURVIVAL: NEGLIGIBLE

SENSORS; INOPERABLE. BEGIN REPAIRS IMMEDIATELY

ERROR; HULL STRESS LEVELS CRITICAL. POWER FLOW CRITICALLY REDUCED

END REGENERATION CYCLE; REDUCE UNNECESSARY ENERGY DRAIN. REPROCESS DAMAGED UNITS TO OPTIMIZE REPAIRS

HOSTILE IDENTIFIED: SPECIES 5618. DESIGNATION: UNKNOWN. SHIP CLASS: UNKNOWN. THREAT ASSESMENT: INCONCLUSIVE; ASSUMED HIGH

BEGIN ATTACK

ERROR; COMMUNICATIONS RELAYS INOPERABLE. UNABLE TO ESTABLISH COMMUNICATIONS. ASSUME HIGH RESISTANCE BASED ON PREVIOUS ENCOUNTERS

UNIT 372A9T DESTROYED. PREPARE TO REPUROSE DEBRIS FOR REPAIRS

DIRECT HIT; ATTEMPTING TO REMODULATE SHIELDS

ERROR; SHIELDS INOPERABLE. WEAPON SIGNATURES: UNKNOWN. POTENTIAL MATCH FOUND: UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS

CRITICAL HULL DAMAGE

ERROR

ERROR

=/=

 

RAFALE
Star Trek: Online

BLOOD RED DAWN


 

Chapter 1

“Computer, NOW is there an open channel to the Merveille?”

The computer’s feminine voice replied “affirmative.” Jessica St. Peter sat at the desk, looking around the deserted lab before tapping a few controls on the display. The screen directly in front of her switched to show the Starfleet seal, and below it were the words “COMMUNICATIONS OPENING - NCC-91221.”

The astrometrics lab was empty, aside from the blue girl. A few other members of the science department would usually come and go throughout the night, but as long as work got done no one cared if personal calls were made, especially this late in the shift. Jessica yawned, then ran a hand through her long mess of blue hair that she had just taken out its usual ponytail.

Astrometrics was, as far as she knew, a rite of passage for every new science officer on the Rafale. It didn’t matter if you were a geologist, a warp-theorist, or, as she had found out, a xenobiologist - everyone worked the late shift in astrometrics until they had earned their stripes.

Or until a new science officer came aboard to replace her. Sadly, since she came aboard almost eight months earlier, no new science officers had joined the crew of the Akira-class starship. Even with the modifications the Rafale had received to make her more of a science vessel and less of a warship, very rarely did science officers put her on the top of their lists. Which had certainly made her choice that much stranger to her friends.

There was a small chime, and then Jessica found herself staring at a young woman who was smiling wide with excitement.

”Evening, Lieutenant!”

Jessica shook her head in response and sighed. “You are never going to let me live that down, will you?”

”Not until I’m promoted. Then YOU have to call ME ‘El-Tee’ for a while.” The other girl stuck out her tongue, giggling just a little.

“You are so special.” The two girls laughed. “What are you up to tonight? I half expected Bridget to answer.”

Justine Dubois shook her head. ”Not much... I'm getting ready for bed. Bridget is still on shift. So where are you?” Justine began unzipping her uniform to take it off, stretching a bit. ”You look exhausted.”

Jessica looked down at a few alerts that had popped up. She pressed the button on the console in front of her, punching the alerts off; random particles of destroyed comets and other random gases weren’t very interesting to her. “We are...en-route to some star-cluster or other...”

”Go sleep or something.”

She shook her head in response, glancing at the display to her left as it recorded more data on the area. “I've been pulling long shifts in astrometrics...I really don't know why...” She looked back at Justine, grinning. “I'm a biologist, not a star-mapper...”

“Something going on?”

Jessica shook her head and shrugged. “Just...areas of space that haven't been completely mapped.” She reached for the cup of coffee to her right and brought it to her lips, taking a long drink and savoring the once hot liquid. It still tasted right, but the aroma had gone with the heat. “What about you guys? Where did y'all head off to after we caught up back on Earth?”

“I'm not sure right now... Somewhere in the Perseus Arm.”

“Oh neat.” Jessica nodded, doing her best to sound like she knew where that was. She’d have to look it up on the starcharts later. “How are you liking sickbay?”

Justine shrugged. ”Pretty boring, so far. I don't care where it's from or how exotic... Fevers are all the same.”

“Heh...they have you doing the intern stuff still?”

The other girl rolled her pitch black eyes. She put her elbow on the desk in front of her and propped her head up with her hand. “It's practically babysitting...”

“ You'll be the chief one day. Just pray it's on a Galaxy or Sovereign...I hear they have really nice, and really BIG, sickbays...”

”One day...”

Jessica heard another alert from the computer. More gas. More dust. She punched the alarms off again with mild annoyance. “We really need to play ball again when we get together. I don't care if we have to have holodeck characters even out the teams...I miss volleyball.”

Justine nodded. “Yeah, on real sand...That was great.” She frowned. “Speaking of missing things, I haven't seen Bridget in like a day and a half. I swear they're putting us on opposite shifts on purpose.”

St. Peter laughed a little, nodding. “They might be. You could try requesting the night shift in sickbay; see if you can't trade with someone else.” She wrinkled her nose. “Unless the doctor is being a jerk about it.”

”I just might.” Justine laughed. “It's either that or give Bridget a bad cold.” She reached forward and began tapping a few controls on her display that Jessica couldn’t see. ”Let's see, what requires mouth-to-mouth?”

More alerts, this time for a few rogue comets. Jessica rolled her eyes, laughing a little. “Don't you doctors have a thing called ‘ethics?’”

”Eth-what-now?”

She shook her head, smirking evilly. “EthAN, the cute boy that liked you until he found out you were with Bridget.”

“He is cute, isn't he?” Justine blushed, the sudden rush of blood turning her face a bright red with her embarrassment. “Well, his loss, I guess. Bridget found me first. She's much prettier, too.”

Both girls laughed in unison. “You broke his poor little heart,” Jessica observed, remembering that awkward moment at the Academy mess when the young cadet had approached Justine. “I don’t think I saw him again for a few weeks after that, and then he was always avoiding us.”

”I didn't mean to!”

“I hear he got the Enterprise though, so I'm sure it worked out well for him.”

Justine nodded in agreement. ”Yeah, that's like being quarterback. He's probably some chick magnet now, and I'm here being forgotten.” She stuck out her bottom lip in a mock pout, exaggerating a sigh before shrugging and putting her infectious smile back on. “I still win in the girlfriend department, though.”

“Well, would you rather he didn't forget you?” Jessica reached over to the console at her right and began tapping a few buttons. “I could try and call him now for you...”

”No!” The other girl quickly reached her hand toward the screen, as if she were going to try and reach through it to stop Jessica. Jessica just laughed, shaking her head as her friend blushed even more.

Justine narrowed her eyes suddenly and sat up, looking devious. “And how is your friend doing, hmm?”

Jessica groaned, smacking her forehead. “Don’t go there, Justine. It was one date.”

“Uh huh. Sure it was.”

Jessica glared at her friend, and she could feel her own face grow hotter in embarrassment. “After the awkward conversation about me and the engines, and then the stepping on of the feet - no Justine. I’m lucky to get one word from him now, he’s so embarrassed.” She sighed, shaking her head. “That is an experience I do not want to repeat.”

Justine just giggled a little more, then pointed at the screen. “Lovely shade of purple you've got there...”

“Oh hush...”

”What? You match my hair.” She pulled a lock of hair forward to the screen to show Jessica. Chances were good it matched her cheeks, since the blood had rushed so quickly to her blue skin.

“I bet your captain just loves your color choices...what's next?”

”I dunno, maybe blue? Or do you have the market cornered on that?” The girls laughed some more. Jessica looked at the screen to her left; it had been quiet for a while now, and it was still showing nothing new.

”So when do we get to hang out again?”

Jessica shrugged, still reading the report on her display. “Well, unless we wind up at Starbase 39 at the same time…”

Justine sighed, propping her head on her hand. “I miss the Academy sometimes... We could all just hang out whenever.”

“That's about the only thing I miss.” Jessica tapped the display next to her, calling up her personal mailbox. It was still only populated by the three messages from the previous week; two were from her father, the third from the girl’s mutual friend, Bridget.

”Well, that and v-ball.”

“Well yeah! That’s a given.” Jessica rolled her eyes. Volleyball had been what brought the three of them together in the first place. They’d played together for the four years they had known each other at the academy, eventually making the varsity squad. The game was special for them and whenever they met back up, they would find the nearest patch of sand and a net and play for hours together.

The chronometer on the console showed 0136 in large, bright numbers. She turned back to her friend and frowned. “When's your shift, hon?”

”Oh-six. When are you off?”

“Six?” Jessica shook her head. “That's almost four hours from now!”

Justine sighed, drooping a little. “I know…”

“Poor JD...what are you still doing up?”

“Talking to you, of course.” She smiled.

“Oh, right...I called you.”

Her friend began clapping. “You've solved another one, St. Peter. You'll make Commander for this.”

“Oh shut up.”

”You're the boss...” Justine made a motion with her hand and mimed zipping her lips shut, grinning. Jessica laughed, and the other girl just saluted back, her grin growing.

“You smart...Smart pants.” Jessica rolled her eyes, shaking her head before trying again. “Smart ass.”

”See, this is what happens when I don't sleep... I go completely insane.”

“Completely? You were already insane.”

=/=

“Captain, we’re getting another intermittent contact on long range sensors.”

Captain Mal’kon turned his chair to the right and then turned his body further so he could address the Trill science officer at her station behind him. “Anything new?”

The small woman shook her head, her short red hair barely jostling from the movement. “No, sir. And…it’s gone again.” She looked up at him, discouraged. “That’s the third time tonight we got a ghost reading, sir.”

Mal’kon stroked his chin thoughtfully, then turned his chair around so he could face the view screen again. “Record the scan results, Nizeri. And then get Commander Seurer to run a level five diagnostic on the sensors. I want to know if the sensors are messing up, or if we really are seeing something out there.”

Nizeri Sano sighed, nodding to herself as she got to work. “Aye, Captain.” She brought up the intra-ship communications menu on her station and opened a channel to Astrometrics. A second later, the screen shifted to show the blue alien working the night shift. “Jess, it’s Nizeri.”

Jessica motioned off screen, lifting a finger as if to tell someone else to wait, before she turned to Nizeri. “Hey Nizeri. What can I do for you?”

“We’ve got another anomaly. I need you to replay the sensor logs from about ten minutes ago to right now and record them.”

“Understood. Give me a second.” Jessica bent her head down, typing in the commands. She looked back up and smiled. “Done. Sending it to your station now.”

“Thanks. Tell Justine I said hi.” Nizeri winked, causing Jessica to turn bright purple at being caught. Nizeri closed the channel with a small laugh.



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