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Eyes-On

Posted on 31 Aug 2020 @ 6:23pm by Lieutenant Commander Arjin Djinx & Lieutenant Jennin Rhula & Lieutenant JG Charles McCullen & Chief Warrant Officer Roosje De Vries
Edited on on 05 Sep 2020 @ 12:30pm

Mission: Ghosts
Location: Runabout Zambezi
Timeline: MD 4 || 1100 hours

Charlie came to a halt at the hatch of the Zambezi, having just completed a walk-around and a visual inspection. There wasn't much to see, the runabout gave no visual indication of her status and he knew that De Vries had already completed the pre-flight checks, but some traditions could not be skipped. Satisfied that he'd done his traditional duty, he climbed the steps and made his way inside.

"Chief De Vries, staus?" He asked the young woman sitting up front as he entered the cockpit, "are we good to go?"

Roosje turned the chair around in which she sat. Faced with her Chief of Command, her green piercing eyes beamed with excitement. “Yes Sir. All safety protocols are in place. Pre-flight diagnostics have been done. She is as ready as she’ll ever be, Sir. Will you be flying her? Or will you be needing my services?”, she added with a youthful ignorance and eagerness on her face.

A Padd in his hand to check the link between the ship and the shuttle, Arjin entered the flight deck and headed over towards the Zambezi. Charles was already there, probably checking out the last details before flying off into the nebula.

"Uh... sorry chief," Charlie couldn't help but grin at Roosje's excitement, it was infectious, "but I can't pass up the chance to fly this baby for real, I'll need a co-pilot though, the nebula might be a little rough." He looked up and saw Arjin making his way across the flight deck and sat himself down at the right helm console next to De Vries, "let's get her warmed up. Pre-flight checks complete, before start checklist. Antimatter containment?"

“Within parameters.”

"Magnetic constrictors?"

“Online and working.”

"Confirm warp core stability above 90%?"

“Warp core stability at 93 and holding.”

"Plasma distribution network?"

“Within parameters.”

"Set EPS taps to open."

“Open. Check.”

"Set fusion reactors to active."

“Active, check”

"Set power bus to internal."

“Internal it is.”

"Disengage external power feed."

“Disengaging.”

"Set reaction control thrusters to active/space."

“Active/Space, check.”

"All hatches sealed, life support green?"

“Check”

"Navigational systems online and calibrated?"

“Systems online and calibrated.”

"Navigational deflector on standby/auto?"

“Deflector on standby/manual. Changing to auto.”

"Impulse engines to standby."

“Stand-by, Sir.”

"Pre-flight checklist complete," Charlie couldn't get the grin off his face, it seemed, as much as he enjoyed piloting the Black Hawk, there was nothing quite like flying a small craft, especially a new small craft, especially in a challenging environment. He turned to look at Arjin, "commander Djinx, are you all set sir?"

“I will have to check the scanners first before we can take off, Lieutenant.”

He nodded towards redheaded woman. “Chief.” And sat down in one of the back seats.

“Commander.”, Roosje replied to the man wearing blue whom she did not immediately recognized.

“Checking link between Black Hawk and Zambezi.”, Arjin said whilst manipulating the console.
“95% efficiency. That should do the trick. All set to go Lieutenant.”

"All right," McCullen tapped the comms panel on his console, "runabout Zambezi to ops, ready to depart."

=/\= "roger that, Zambezi, permission to depart granted."

"Acknowledged, Zambezi out." McCullen shut the channel and nodded to Roosje, "let's do this."

The runabout lifted gracefully off from the deck and spun around on it's horizontal axis to face the shuttle bay doors, which stood open, the slight blue haze of the atmospheric shield distorting the color of the nebula beyond. McCullen nudged her forwards with the thrusters and then they were out, arcing up and away from the Black Hawk and into the nebula.

As soon as they exited, the runabout started fighting McCullen, the eddies and currents of the nebula couldn't easily push a starship the size of the 'Hawk around, but for the little Zambezi it was a different story. It was a bit of a roller-coaster inside the cockpit and Charlie shot a frown at De Vries, "gimmie max thrusters, take weapons and tertiary systems offline and boost inertia dampening, I'm slowing us down."

Roosje slid her fingers across her console. “Tertiary systems offline, Sir. As are the weapons. Thrusters at full power.”

The runabout steadied, and Charlie moved her towards the Shran's starboard side. From the Zambezi's forward window he could see the Sabre class ship's hull, it was visibly pitted and scarred, in spots there was the beginnings of corrosion. The helmsman shuddered at what might be inside, was the ship empty, or a cold tomb? "What do the sensors say?" He asked quietly, "what's inside?"

Arjin had scanned the Shran with the new scanners. So far he had witnessed the same as what the Lieutenant had seen visually. She was one spotted Lady all right. He commenced his scan of the interior. “No life signs detected. No more oxygen inside. She is flooded with the Nebula’s gasses. There appears to be a big hole at the other side. And wait. One compartment that seems to still have a pocket filled with low quantities of air.”

"We should mark that," Charlie said as he slipped the Zambezi to starboard, strafing her around to the hull breach in the ventral hull. "We could beam in a pocket of air and an away team... this hull breach is... damn." The hole was large, big enough to fit the runabout inside with room to spare. "Can we determine what caused it?"

“The hull plating is turned outwards.”, Arjin pointed out. “That could indicate an explosion coming from the inside. The small pocket of stale air is more to the port side. If my memory of the Sabre class layout is correct, I would say it is located at the transporters.”

"Roger that, we should, uh... move on. I don't see any battle scAWUAH!" Charlie physically recoiled from the viewscreen, sinking into his chair as his hands instinctively came up to cover his head. A face was looking through the viewscreen, or what remained of a face. White and twisted by exposure and the effects of the nebula, it was attached to a body wearing the tatters of a blue uniform.

Roosje kinda jumped right out of her seat by the scream. “Are you all right Lieutenant?”, she asked.

"That's... a body." McCullen said, pointing out the window at the corpse and trying his very best not so sound like a scared child. "Commander, what should we do?" He was more than happy to kick that responsibility up the chain to the senior officer on scene.

“Ieks”, Roosje said as she saw the Starfleet corpse. “What a way to die?”

Arjin looked out of the window. There was indeed a corpse floating around. He did not really have much experience with them. But his former host had seen plenty in various states of decay. “We should contact the Black Hawk. They wil want to know who this is and give her a proper burial.” Het opened a channel and called out to sickbay.
=^= Commander Djinx to Lieutenant Jennin. We have located a corpse aboard the USS Shran. Can you please give us your instructions for recovery of it? =^=

"We can't beam it onboard, it might have a disease or... something." Charlie said, half to himself. He remembered reading about the USS Tsiolkovsky, a science vessel upon which all the crew had gotten a virus and gone mad, leading to the destruction of the ship.

"I'm a little busy on my own away mission, Mister Djinx. Standard body recovery protocol will suffice. And don't bother me while I'm on a mission."

=^=Roger that Doctor. Standard protocol it is. =^=, Arjin answered.

"What else do we need to see?" Charlie asked, making a conscious effort to put the corpse out of his mind and focus on flying the runabout. He began to move the Zambezi out and away from the breach and it's contents, intent on heading towards the bridge.

“A full 3D sweep. Let’s take a look to the nacelles.”, Arjin replied.

"Aye sir," the helmsman responded, changing course slightly to starboard to slip past the bridge and out towards the Shran's starboard nacelle. On the way past, he turned the runabout and let her slip, pointing the bow towards the bridge while still moving towards the nacelles, but it seemed there was nothing to see, a dark and cold hull.

“Scans don’t indicate any damage to starboard nacelle. Let’s check the other one.”

Roosje smiled, but inwardly she still shivered about the body. “Looks like a wave of turbulence is coming our way, Sirs!”, she warned.

"Hnng," Charlie grunted to himself as he ran his fingers across the controls, firing the ventral thrusters to lift the Zambezi up and away from the dead ship and into clear space, the last thing he wanted was for the runabout to smash into the Shran. "Structural integ..." he began to tell Roosje as the turbulence hit. It wasn't enough to damage the runabout, but it was more than enough to rattle her and bounce the occupants around a bit. Charlie did the Starfleet shuffle in his chair, holding onto the console as he was bounced left and right, forward and back.

Roosje had been in enough rough shuttle rides to be able to adjust her posture. Besides she had seen the turbulence coming. Go with the flow was what you needed to do. So, yes she was shaken, if not as bad as the two men besides her. “Structural integrity holding just fine.”, she finished the Lieutenant’s sentence.

Arjin was rocked from all sides when the shock wave hit the shuttle. He held on to his chair as if his life depended on it. He wondered how the Chief was able to ride it with so much grace. As the wave passed, he was finally able to relax some more. “Phew! Glad that is over. Everyone all right? Let’s get back and examine the ship shall we?”

"Uh... yeah." Charlie grinned at the chief, turning the runabout and bringing her back down to where they had been, the port nacelle swung into view, it was, like the rest of the ship, cold and dark, and as far as he could see, otherwise unremarkable.

Arjin scanned the nacelle. There was the damage from floating around inside the nebula. But nothing structural. It seemed them being stranded here had nothing to do with lack of propulsion system.

“Let’s take a look at the bridge section. What do you think?”

"Bridge section, aye." Charlie answered, setting in a string of commands that would move the runabout up and forwards towards the bridge. "I think... did the internal explosion cause this, or did it happen after? I don't see any other signs of damage."

“That remains to be investigated.”, Arjin answered. “Detecting multiple life signs.”, he followed reading out the data on his console. “Must be the away team.”

“Running around in that ghost ship with floating bodies. Rather them than me.”, Roosje squeaked.

At helm, McCullen had a momentary vision of a dead Cardassian floating in the middle of a corridor and the hot grip of a pha..aaaa.a.h. No, he chided himself silently, mentally slapping the lid back on that box and shoving it back into the dark corners of his mind where it belonged. He suppressed a shudder and gamely offered, "what next, commander? How about the deflector dish, damage there could, uh... tell us something, I guess?"

“All right. Make it so. Let’s keep our eyes open.”

Charlie turned the runabout away from the bridge, maneuvering her backwards and down towards the unlit deflector dish of the Sabre class vessel. As far as he could tell there was nothing much to see, just a dark deflector dish with the same general wear damage as the rest of the ship.

Arjin watched as the dark deflector came in view. It did not seem damaged. Just dead. He made a quick scan. Then something caught his eye. The computer detected small micro-fractures all around the lower left side of the dish. He brought the detail on the console screen.

At helm, Charlie was trying to distract himself by doing calculations, given the predominant currents of the nebula and the estimated time the Shran had been missing, he was working out where she had come from. It was likely she had drifted several hundred thousand kilometres from the point where she had initially lost power. He did most of the calculations in his head, enjoying the mental exercise, and came up with an approximate location, it was just an area grid, not a specific location, there were too many uncertain variables to tie it down that closely, but he had a rough idea.

“I think we are here in time. I am not sure how much longer the ship can take in these conditions.”, Arjin said whilst bringing the images onto the others crewmembers’ screen.

Charlie whistled low under his breath, "I wouldn't want to try to move her under her own power, if that's even possible... those micro-fractures could get macro real fast. Do you know if we're planning to, uh... tow her out of here?"

“Not that I know. But we better let the Captain know about it. Any other places you want to investigate Lieutenant?”

"Uh..." Charlie stalled as he thought for a moment, "my calculations indicate that the Shran entered the nebula several hundred thousand kilometres away and drifted here, it might be a good idea to, uh, investigate but... uh... I think it'd be better to take the Black Hawk instead of the runabout."

“And you did all those calculations in your head in this short notice. Wow impressive.”, Roosje said in awe.

Charlie blushed, he didn't like advertising that he could do astro-navigation calculations in his head, in his experience it made him stand out and tended to make people nervous. "Uh... I... well, yeah... thanks, I guess."

“Well let’s call it a wrap then and head back.”

"Aye sir," Charlie nodded, turning back to his controls and setting a course back towards home, he took the runabout up and over the dead Shran with the thrusters and then punched the impulse engines. Before long, the Black Hawk hove into view and Charlie took the Zambezi up and around, heading towards the rear of the ship and the man shuttle bay doors.

Arjin was stil reviewing the data they had gathered so he was not paying much attention towards the image of the Black Hawk. His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a comment from the Chief.

“What is that strange thing clinging to the Black Hawk’s Port nacelle?” she asked.

"Huh?" Charlie frowned as he looked up from his controls towards the nacelle in question. There was indeed a thing attached to it. It was sleek and black, hardly discernible from the blackness of space around the ship, but once it had been seen it was easy to spot. Theories popped unbid into his brain as to what it could be, an alien parasite, some debris, a tracking device, a bomb, some kind of... bomb. Bomb. bomb. BOMB! Almost, he let slip the panic that threatened to well up and overrun him, but training and long practice let him shove it away before it had the chance. Instead, he dragged his eyes away from the thing and turned to look at Djinx, his face a twisted frown of fear and concern. "Uh... commander, we have a problem. A big problem."

“You have keen eyes Miss De Vries”, Arjin said. “I have missed it completely. Lets take a closer look and scan it before we inform the Captain.”

"Moving in for a closer look," McCullen responded from the helm, running through the commands to move the runabout around the nacelle to bring the sensor suite in line.

Arjin started a scan as soon as possible. Waiting until the data came in, being only seconds in real time, seemed like ages. When confronted with the outcome, his eyes went wide. He was not a specialist. But all the components inside the black thing attached to the hull of the big ship could be nothing else than “....... “a Bomb”, he shouted.

Charlie's eyes widened as he turned first to stare at Arjin and then back to the device attached to the Black Hawk's nacelle. Usually his overactive imagination and irrational fears were just in his head, it wasn't often that his flights of fearful fancy actually came true. He swallowed once, twice. There were the inevitable waves of panic and fear but they were followed by a swell of anger that overrode both. He was new to the ship, he didn't have the connection with her that many of the other crew had, but he was a Starfleet officer and that was more than enough. The very concept of sabotaging a ship, destroying a vessel containing hundreds of lives without giving them even a chance to fight, escape or survive was reprehensible to him, it was beyond disgusting. He gripped the edges of the console with one fist, accepting the anger and letting it be, and jammed his finger into the comms button. Somewhere in the back of his head, he was aware that protocol demanded that the commander make the call, but there was no stopping now.

=/\= "Black Hawk this is Lieutenant McCullen on the Zambezi, there is a.... a bomb, attached to the ship's port nacelle."

Silence... Charlie's frown deepened, =/\= "Black Hawk, this is Zambezi, respond please?"

The helmsman turned to look at first De Vries and then Djinx, shaking his head. "Sir?"

“First a corpse, then a bomb, now radio silence. What is next?”, Roosje let out before she realized it.

Arjin frowned. “Can you get us in Lieutenant? Or do you need communication for that?”

"I can get us in," Charlie responded without hesitation, turning back to his controls and maneuvering the

“Take us in then. Chief De Vries I want you to stay in the shuttle when we arrive. Keep it ready If we ever need to get out in a hurry.”, Arjin stated.

“Aye Sir”, the redhead responded.

"Aye Sir", Charlie echoed, he took the runabout off automatic control and set his fingers on the manual controls, sliding the runabout to starboard away from the nacelle and then strafing her around and down, slowly spinning on the horizontal axis until she was facing the right way. A nudge of forward thruster pushed her back and he let her drift until the Black Hawk's shuttle bay came into view. As he had expected, there was no automatic guidance or tractor beam assistance, but it didn't matter. He punched the aft thrusters for two seconds, enough to arrest the backwards movement and give them five meters per second forward thrust then used the attitude control thrusters to line her up.

The Zambezi slid into the shuttle bay and set down on her pad with hardly a bump and Charlie shut down the engines.

 

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