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PRIORITY ALERT

ATTEN: STARFLEET COMMAND

U.S.S. REVERE, NCC-1805-B

Admiral Quinn,
Revere just made contact with seven unidentified vessels close to the Gamma Orionis sector border. All seven were small, possibly unmanned, probes. They were critically damaged when we found them, and we were unable to establish communications or determine if there were in fact life signs on board before we were engaged without warning.

I’ve included the tactical scans of the ships; all seven were destroyed, and we were unable to recover anything to corroborate our scans. I believe the work of my science and tactical officers, but this data is…disturbing.

Please review our findings and advise.

Captain Youssef Jafari

===


Chapter 2

“I do not understand what the Captain has requested, Nizeri.”

Nizeri Sano smiled at her friend across the table. “It’s just a drill, Wirst.” She took a bite of the food on her tray - mashed potatoes, one of her more favorite human foods - followed by a sip of water to wash it down. “The Captain has every right to call for an exercise on his ship, you know.”

Wirstowx raised an eyebrow and nodded. “It is the nature of the exercise that has me intrigued. I was not under the impression that large boarding parties were a common tactic.” He took a bite of his own food.

Nizeri rolled her eyes. “Oza don’t do boarding parties?”

“I meant among the Klingons.” Wirstowx took another bite before continuing. “However, no. The Vinrali did not see that as a necessary tactic, so we were not put to use in that regard.”

Sano smiled; it was easy to imagine the large, muscular Wirstowx and a team of his kinsmen beaming onto an enemy ship and wrecking havoc. Ozem warriors were the closest thing to Klingons that the Federation had found twenty years earlier on its first voyages into the Andromeda Galaxy. They stood as tall and had the same build as their Milky Way counterparts, and were led by much of the same warrior ethos. The startling difference was attitude; the best comparison was that Oza were a mix of Klingons and Vulcans.

Strength and passion, combined with intellect and calm. Order and chaos. It was an effective combination.

Wirstowx opened his mouth, breathing in before taking a bite of his food. On a previous encounter, he had explained to the Trill that it was the equivalent of her own sense of smell, since the Oza did not have noses. She watched him take another “sniff” before putting the food in his mouth, wondering what kind of world could cause a species to lose the need for a nose.

He glanced up, his deep purple eyes meeting hers. “You’re doing it again, Nizeri.”

“Doing what?”

“Theorizing as to why I don’t have a nose.”

The Trill woman blushed, dropping her gaze to her potatoes. She scooped another forkful of her meal. “At least I’m not asking how you lost it.”

Wirstowx thought for a moment, then gave a slight nod. “Indeed.”

“So what is so hard to understand about the Captain’s order? The Klingons do employ boarding parties.”

“I’m not disputing that. However, a typical Bird of Prey has a crew compliment of twelve to twenty. A boarding party would be no larger than six to twelve personnel.” He took a gulp of water. “The captain is having us prepare for a boarding party of a much larger size.”

Sano shrugged. “How large?” She brought her glass up to her mouth to take a drink.

“Forty to sixty members.”

Nizeri sputtered, nearly spitting her water onto her friend. “Sixty?! That’s outrageous!”

“Now you see my dilemma.” Wirstowx took another bite. “Obviously, he is expecting something much more catastrophic than a simple border skirmish with the Klingons.”

“I’m not smart on security, Wirstowx, but I don’t think anyone that we’re in conflict with employs that number in a boarding party.”

“There is no one. Not even in my home galaxy did we see numbers of that size. It is very peculiar.”

“That’s one word for it.” Nizeri pushed her tray away.
Wirstowx glanced at the tray of half-eaten food, then back up at the Trill. “Is something wrong?”

“I think I lost my appetite.”

===


“Ok, that’ll do it. Recycle the power flow status, and let’s try this again.” Lieutenant Commander Elaina Seurer typed a few more inputs onto her PADD, then looked at the console in front of her to make sure they matched.

“Careful, easy does it girl.” Elaina spoke softly, watching the power level for the sensors slowly rise back to operational standards. The diagnostic the captain had ordered had taken her team the better part of the day to complete; it was now almost fourteen hours later, and she could tell her engineers were tired.

“EPS looking good, commander.” A crewman in a yellow jumpsuit looked over his shoulder to her. “We should have sensors back up in ten minutes.”

“Keep an eye on it; you remember the last diagnostic we ran.” Elaina tapped a few more commands, steadying the power to the sensor array.

Eight months ago, that last time a high-level diagnostic had been done on the sensor array, power had been restored much quicker. The resulting explosion injured three of Elaina’s people and flooded the sensor labs with radiation. Rafale had to be put in drydock for weeks to get the problem fixed. She wasn’t taking that chance again.

She sighed, still monitoring the rising power levels. Whoever had the idea to convert the Akira-class’s shuttle deck into more lab space and install a sensor suite meant for a Galaxy-class starship needed to be strung up and beaten. Even though the Rafale had been purposely built to hold the updated sensors - rather than retro-fitted like many of her sister ships - she still dealt with compatibility issues, whether it came in computer resource allocation or power allocation.

Today, it was power allocation. The Braidan woman wiped her forehead with the back of her right hand, looking down at her left. Lines, in patterns of circuitry, were just visible even underneath her dark skin. Her fingers were tipped with small, dark circles - buttons, just under the skin - connected by the circuits to a large metal disc that took up most of the center of her palm.

Like all Braidans, Elaina had been outfitted with biomechanical implants as a child which allowed her to instantly remove any toxin from her body. It was the crowning achievement of the failed human colony, where only a handful of the original settlers survived a catastrophe that irradiated the entire planet, making it effectively uninhabitable and cutting off all contact with the rest of the Federation. In order to survive, they had integrated their medical instruments with terraforming equipment into portable units. As the years and technology increased, the size of the units decreased until, when contact had been reestablished forty years ago, the units were small and portable enough to be implanted directly into the person.

While effective for saving her life, Elaina had come to learn quickly at the Academy that her implants drew the ire of many of her instructors.

She sighed, shaking her head. Aside from the faint trails of circuitry that lined her forearms, and the small implants on her right temple and palm, she looked nothing like the dreaded Borg they had mistaken her for. Even after two years aboard the Rafale, many of the older officers were still uncomfortable around her.

"Looking good, Commander." The technician walked over, handing her a PADD. Elaina took it and activated it, looking over his readings and checking them with what she saw on her console.

Satisfied, she handed the PADD back and nodded. "Bring the sensors back to full status." She tapped her commbadge. "Engineering to bridge."

"Bridge here, go ahead Commander."

"Let the captain know he can have his sensors back, the diagnostic is finished. No critical errors found, only a few minor recalibrations."

"Understood. Bridge out."

Elaina yawned, glancing down at the clock displayed on the console in front of her. It was well past time for her shift to be over, and in a few hours it wouldn't even be worth it to go to sleep. She frowned; she missed her warm bed and soft pillow. Oh well, she thought, pressing the center disk on her palm, then tapping her fingers in a sequence she had created at the Academy for her all-nighters. There was a soft beep, and she closed her eyes as her implants kicked in, forcing her body to produce stimulants to keep her awake longer. She swayed slightly, then opened her eyes. Everything was in sharp focus, and she stretched her arms. Sufficiently awake, she smiled and clapped her hands, causing a few of her engineers to turn and look at her. "Ok. What's next?"


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