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So It Begins

Posted on Wed Apr 26th, 2017 @ 3:54pm by Captain John Chandler III & Commander Rachiel Bryce
Edited on on Thu Aug 17th, 2017 @ 12:01pm

Mission: 101- Where No One has Gone Before
Location: In Orbit around Melona Colony
Timeline: 22 September 2264

Personal Log entry 03:00 hours:

It's been almost six weeks since the Enterprise has launched after a rather long refit. Many of the crew are still getting used to the new equipment. As ordered none of them are aware of how Starfleet developed these new systems especially since many of them are dramatic leaps forward. I have yet to bring in any of the senior staff, we've all been busy trying to make sure all these new systems work. On that note my Chief Engineer has done an incredible job of doing just that. A lot has happened in the last two years while I was Earth-bound as the Enterprise went through her rebirth. Tensions with the Klingons seem to be on the rise. They've been playing cat-and-mouse games with some of our ships near the Neutral Zone. But whenever one of our heavy cruisers arrive in the area, they tend to disappear. They seem to be testing us, but have decided for now it's not worth actually starting a confrontation. Hopefully it won't happen until we're ready for whatever they have planned. On a side note, the Enterprise should be arriving at Beta Durani VIII by mid-afternoon, a chance to get a little exploring in while we continue the ship's shakedown. As such, I better get some sleep. ~ End Log

The rest of the morning went the way all of his mornings had for the last few weeks. At 0500 hours he went for a five mile run through the ship's lower decks. By 0600 he was in the Captain's personal mess eating breakfast and reading the reports from delta shift. Doing a 4 shift rotation was something he had always wanted to try. So far the crew seems to enjoy the six hour shifts since it gave them extra time to for personal projects, and in theory it should mean he'd have fresh people on shift in an emergency. By 0700 he was on the bridge in his chair. It was still hard for him to believe that the Enterprise was his ship. But he had to admit whenever he thought about that it put a smile on his face.

Sickbay 06:55 hours:

"Good morning, Doctor Carter," Ensign Rousseau said as the doors to Sickbay opened.

"Good morning, Madeline!" came Carter's booming voice. A grin split his face and his eyes twinkled. "And how are things with you?"

"Fine sir," she said, smiling and handing him the morning reports. "Today's duty roster, requests from department heads, schedules for the last of the initial crew physicals and that supply report you'd asked for."

"Fine, fine," Carter said, flipping through them. So far his response to every morning report had been, "fine, fine" and his staff was coming to expect it. The inside joke was that if he ever said "okay" it would mean imminent death. "Well, it looks like things are rather under control here. I'll sign off on these, see to the labs and then finally visit the bridge."

"Yes, Doctor," Madeline said, heading back to her duties.

Carter went to his office and put the reports down on his desk before walking over to the servitor and ordering a cup of coffee. He whistled to himself as the door slid back and his cup slid out and he picked it up carefully and took it back to his desk. He was quickly establishing a comfortable morning routine. He'd always preferred arriving to work five minutes early, enjoying a strong cup of coffee and going through the morning reports with a bit of leisure, similar to a morning paper. So long as there was time for that, it was a good day.

At 0700 on the dot, the door opened and Crewmen Telfer entered the sickbay and walked up to the nurse....again. "I seem to have a fever."

Nurse Rousseau was less than enthused by their 'best customer' returning, but kept it to herself. "Take a seat at your usual table," she said and walked quickly to the Chief's office. "Doctor Carter...he's back."

"Thank you, Madeline," Nick said, putting away his reports and standing up, taking his coffee with him. He walked into Sickbay's main area and to the shivering young man on the examination table. "Welcome back, Crewman Telfer," Carter boomed, his eyes glinting with amusement. "And what have we got for ourselves, this time, hm?"

"I've got a fever." he said as he handed the Doctor a medical tricorder with a readout showing a 0.2 degree rise in his core temperature. "Look at the scan I've got a Rigellian Fever."

"Now, John," Carter said patiently, "I thought we came to an agreement last week. You develop the symptoms, I make the diagnosis." He chuckled to himself and took the pilfered tricorder away, placing it on a counter behind him, out of reach.

"That's fine for a cold," Telfer protested, "but this can't wait! If we don't find a source of ryetalyn soon, the fever will spike and my brains will turn to mush and the rest of the crew will be infected!"

"And we wouldn't want that, would we?" Carter said, smiling. He patted Telfer on the shoulder. "All right, young man, lie back and let's have a look."

As Telfer reclined, Carter activated the med sensors and looked at them with a very serious expression. "Mmmm.....hmmm.....mmmm," he said, making the 'doctor noises' Telfer was expecting. "Well, Crewman, it seems you are correct. Your temperature is a bit elevated, your blood pressure is up--"

"It's worse than I thought," Telfer moaned. "The crew is dead and it's my fault."

"Crewman," Carter said, slowly, "which do you want first, the good news or the bad news?"

Telfer opened his eyes in surprise at the somber note in Carter's voice. "The good news?"

"You do not have Rigellian Fever," Carter said. "There is no sign of the bacterium in your system."

"But..." Telfer prompted.

"The temperature, combined with your muscle spams last week, and your cramps the week before that, the sensitivity in your nipples before that...I hadn't noticed the connection until now," Carter said, his voice quiet.

"What is it?" Telfer said, his voice rising in panic.

"Collins' Syndrome," Carter said. "I'm sorry, son."

"What's Collins' Syndrome?" Telfer said, terrified.

"It's genetic, so you can't spread it to others," Carter said, "a bit more good news. But it is degenerative, and it is exceptionally rare."

"" Telfer paused as it sank in. "There's no cure, is there..."

"No," Carter said, but then gave what he hoped was a comforting smile. "But there is treatment, and if you do it regularly, you will live a long, healthy, productive life."

"What is it?" Telfer said.

"A weekly injection," Carter said, "and I'll leave you with a simple monitoring device. If we stick to that, you will be fine."

"Are...are you sure?" Telfer said, weakly. "I've never heard of anyone in my family having it."

"It's a highly recessive gene," Carter said. "My guess is you could go several generations back and not find it, and by that point it was probably misdiagnosed. It didn't even have a name until the very end of the twentieth century.

"Oh," Telfer said, his mind racing. "But I'll be all right, now that we've caught it?"

"Absolutely," Carter said, his usual boisterous voice back in force. He walked over to a storage cabinet and pulled out a small device on a strap, then reached over and picked up a hypospray and a small vial from his instrument tray.

"Now," he said, "off with your shirt." As Telfer disrobed, Carter adjusted the strap and put it around Telfer's bicep.

"The symptoms you've been experiencing are just side effects," Carter explained. "Minute glitches in your nervous system's responses. This monitor is built to track your neurological responses," Carter said. "It will perform a periodic check your system every twelve hours."

"Is that enough?" Telfer said.

"Oh, more than," Carter said. "At this early stage, we really don't need to check more than once per week, but I like frequent data." Telfer nodded in understanding. "Now, should you want to do a manual check, you press this button here," Carter said, indicating a button on the side. "It will give you a readout with a percentage of the quality of your system compared to the human norm. The worry zone is sixty percent, but anything below eighty and an alert will appear at my desk, and we'll give you another examination."

Telfer nodded and barely reacted when Carter gave him the injection. He looked at the hypospray after the fact and then at Carter, the question in his eyes.

"Your first dosage," Carter said, "mixed with a bit of simple nutrients. We won't need a high dosage for some years, so once per week will do fine."

Telfer sat up and put his uniform shirt back on. "Thank you, Doctor," he said slowly. "I feel....better."

"It's my pleasure, John," Carter said. "I'm just sorry I told you it was nothing, but I'm glad we caught it."

"So am I," Telfer said, starting to sound relieved. He looked at his armband again and pressed the button experimentally. It hummed for a moment, and a slight green light shone from beneath his sleeve.

"Green means above ninety," Carter said, beaming. "You're doing fine, son. Just don't fall for the false signals. If you feel a twinge, check your monitor."

"All right," Telfer said, taking a steadying breath and standing up. "Thanks again, Doctor."

"You're welcome, my boy," Carter said, smiling. "See you in one week." He clapped John on the shoulder again and steered him out of Sickbay.

When the doors had finally closed, Nurse Rousseau came up to him. "Did he really have a disease?"

"Of course not. Boy's healthy as a horse," Carter said, chuckling. "But he needed to be sick, so I made up a sickness. I even put information in the Medical database about it. And he needs reassurance, so I gave him a way to constantly reassure himself. Some of us never get over our teddy bears, Madeline."

"But, what did you inject him with?"

"A very mild sedative, along with a standard nutrient solution. A little tranquility will do him, and us, a world of good."

The next patient who walked in was momentarily put off by the attending nurse's laughter.

Beta Durani VIII- 16:00 hours:

JT took in a deep breath, it had been nearly two months since he had taken in non-recycled air. He didn't care what anyone told him, there was a difference between ship air and real air. Also, there was just something special about feeling a breeze on one's face. It was actually a beautiful day, nearly 80 degrees, winds were WSW at 12 mph, humidity was around 47%. It reminded him of Florida in the winter, except you wouldn't find ruins of an ancient civilization in Florida, especially those that, if initial scans were correct, were older than humanity. Maybe they'd find something on this world that would help him figure out their other puzzle.

Some distance away, the XO was meticulously scanning a fallen obelisk which was showed considerable evidence of erosion, however several panels on the 6.7 meter long stone retained faint but legible signs of writing. Using a tricorder, she was assisting two science officers in scanning the stone, studying the results on a small tablet which showed the impressions carved into the stone clearly. "It is reminiscent of cuneiform writing.. but with only this example any translation will be impossible." Commander Bryce said softly, speaking to Lt. Gaines as he continued to slowly and carefully scan and record the surface of the fallen monument.

Doctor Carter walked over towards the Captain and joined him in a deep breath. "Fine day," he said. "Air content is free of pollutants, the nitrogen mix is a tad heavier than Earth, but nothing that our lungs can't handle. I've got DNA samples of some of the local flora. If we've got the time, I'm happy to see if the fishing is good as well." He beamed and looked around the site. "Must have been a pretty sizable settlement in its hey-day, hm?"

"That's what it looks like... however so far we haven't found any signs of technology or even any DNA of the past inhabitants." Chandler replied. "It's damn weird this settlement is old, but not so old that we should have found something."

"Well, maybe they all picked up and left for a vacation and decided to stay, hm?" Carter said, chuckling. "Can you imagine? A whole species that said, 'let's go!'"

JT couldn't help but chuckle at that. He thought about the joke for a moment. "If that were the case... where and why would they go." he paused as he looked around "I mean look at this place, it's gorgeous. Put up a few hotels and you could have a great vacation spot."

"Maybe they like the seashore," Carter said. "Or maybe the food supply dried up and it's only now come back. That's why humanity moves around, isn't it? Greener pastures?"

"Well that, and partly so we can survive," JT said. He motioned for the Doctor to follow him as he started walking towards the area where the XO was. "We know that one day our star is going to go dead. So if we spread out among the rest of the stars, humanity will survive. One of the perks of fulfilling this need for survival, however, is making new discoveries."

"How little we've changed in a few hundred years," Carter said, chuckling again.

"Oh I wouldn't say that." he said as he saw the XO looking at some rubble... it looked as if it might have been an obelisk of some sort. "Looks like you have found something interesting there Number One."

Glancing toward the Captain, Commander Bryce answered "The position of the stone after it fell left this side of the obelisk protected from weather. It is not as severely eroded as the other visible areas. There are markings which are reminiscent of ancient Cuneifrom style writing however it could merely be decorative as well. There is not enough data available to make a more sound hypothesis as this time. It is possible there are more markings on the underside of the stone, however before any attempt at moving the stone is undertaken a complete survey of the stone as it lies in site must be completed."

"Still nothing indicating what level of technology they had before they disappeared?" he asked.

After a moment of silence, the XO said "At the very least they were skilled in stone working. There is too much natural erosion for us to make any determination as to the technological developments which were used in construction of these buildings and structures at this early a point in the investigation."

JT stepped closer to the stone and looked it over. It might be like the one that he the colonists had found so a couple of years ago. But until the tests were completed they just wouldn't known. Among those, they needed a proper carbon dating result. If it fell into the period of 38,000 - 18,000 years ago then they'd know for sure that this world might be hold the clues they were looking for.

The Captain continued to linger, a fact which Rachiel found inexplicably annoying. She knew he wanted to know the age of the ruins, and in typical human fashion his impatience was tangible. Finally, after letting him stew on his own thoughts for several moments longer, she waited until she could tell from the expression on his face that he was about to ask another question and then, and only hen, did she look up from the holographic imager to say, "We took a small sample of the obelisk by removing an already loose piece of shaped stone from the damaged region in the center. As the piece was altered by the ancients who created the carvings we hoped that a full spectrum analysis of the section of carved stone might give an estimate of how much time would be required to attain the level of erosion apparent on the stone to get at least a rough idea of how long it's been exposed to the elements.

JT nodded as he listened to his first officer. He still didn't know her very well, just what was in her file. But he had this feeling that she didn't like him very much. A fact that he couldn't blame her for. Rumor had it that she was in line for command of the Enterprise before he got it. He was about to tell her something when he felt a breeze come out of nowhere and then he heard a low WHIRR. Soon the sound began to get loud enough for all to hear it. "Damn it not now." he said more to himself.

Rachiel heard it as well. Puzzle, she paused and listened a moment. "What is that?"

The winds were picking up to the point that it now seemed like an atmospheric disturbance.

"Did scans indicate any caves nearby?" Chandler asked her as he was already removing his communicator from his pants pocket. "Chandler to Enterprise are you getting anything out of the ordinary on the sensors?"

Turning to look over at the Captain, After a moment Rachiel nodded. "These ruins were built in proximity to a system of caverns cut out of limestone bedrock. There are wells which extend down to access the underground water, and at least two entrances to the caverns below approximately 2 kilometers to east."

"With a fresh water source and shelter, we should be able to wait out the storm without much trouble," Carter said. "If we set out now, we should be able to make it to safety before the storm really opens up."

"This is no storm." Chandler said as he looked at his communicator to see if it was working. "Chandler to Enterprise!" he called out again. "Commander see if you can reach the ship." he ordered.

Her eyes sharp on his face now, the XO did as asked and activated her communicator. "Bryce to Enterprise. Bryce to Enterprise come in."

After a second attempt she said, "No response Captain. What did you mean..this is no storm?"

"It means I've seen this before." he said. The winds were now extreme enough that it was beginning to have some push against them. "Get everyone to those caverns now!" he ordered as he looked up to the sky. This wasn't how it was last time. There was nothing to interfere with communications before. Where was it, he knew it was going to appear soon but where. And what about the Enterprise, was she up their helpless against them or was she able to detect them.

"Whatever it is, I, for one, don't want to stick around and find out," Carter said, now shouting over the wind. He grabbed the ensign next to him who was beginning to stumble in the onslaught of wind and steadied him. "Everyone head out two-by-two, two klicks to the east! Don't stop till you're well inside the caves!"

That's when it appeared seemingly out of nowhere. A vast shimmering, faceted shape. No less ominous in its cold beauty as it was two years ago. And just like before a brilliant beam of light sweat down from the ship like a giant scythe, cutting a huge swath. The light encased everything in its path, suffuses it in the brilliant violet light... and then sweeps on. The trees and everything else in it's arc of destruction reduced to a pile of dust. "MOVE MOVE MOVE!!!"

One look at the strange sight was enough! Commander Bryce, as the only one with an idea of where the cavern entrances were located, led the way at a swift run, racing over the ground stifling the fury she felt that the Captain had been obviously aware of the potential danger yet had chosen to keep it to himself... for now...

Reaching the low lying area where she knew the cavern entrances had been discovered, Rachiel slowed her pace...her focus now on identifying the entrance leading into the caverns below. "There!" She shouted to be heard over the howling wind. Quickly reaching the partially hidden narrow crack in the side of a shallow sinkhole, Rachiel gracefully slid down the embankment to the bottom of the sinkhole and crossed to where a dark shadow half hidden by plant growth marked their destination. With one hand she pulled the foliage away to reveal the entrance and waved at the others closing on her position. "Hurry!"

Carter stumbled down the embankment behind her alongside an ensign. They grabbed each other to steady themselves and run full tilt behind her, almost throwing themselves into the entrance of the cave. Carter shoved the Ensign in ahead of him and stood with Bryce, grabbing people as they got near and yanking them into safety.

Chandler was the last one to arrive at the cave since he wanted to make sure all of his people had made it. He looked at the tricorder he had been carrying and scanned the cave. "Hopefully the minerals in this cave should be dense enough to protect us from that ship's weapons." he said. As soon as the words had come out of his mouth the deja vu hit him. Only this time he wasn't beaming out to get to the ship to save colonists.

Approaching the Captain, Cmdr. Bryce locked eyes with him as she said, "You said you'd seen this before. I think it's past time for you to share information Captain. What is going on here? What is that ship out there and why did it attack?"

"Other than it's a ship is just about all I know," he told her. "I have no idea who they are, or why they attacked. However it isn't the first time I've encountered one of their ships." He said as he continued looking at the tricorder. "There are some strange readings here." he said as he continued to adjust the tricorder. When he was happy with the adjustments he continued before his XO had a chance to ask for more information. "Two years ago I encountered a ship from this race at Melona Colony. We were able to get the most of the colonists to some near by caves which kept casualties light. I then got back to the Farragut and blew it straight to hell. Was hoping I never had to see something like that again."

"What makes you think that was an attack?" Carter called from deeper in the cave where he was kneeling down, tending to a scientist's sprained ankle.

"Well that beam they use isn't exactly a spot light," JT said. He hoped he wasn't sounding harsh. "That ship appeared out of nowhere and killed several people two years ago. The only reason they didn't kill more was because we were able to stop it."

Carter stood up, taking a few deep breaths to calm himself. "Captain, if I'm performing surgery, I don't remove random layers of flesh until I reach what I want, I make a surgical cut and go in for it. If they were after us, they were doing a pretty bass-ackwards method of killing us."

Chandler nodded in agreement. The doctor seemed to agree with what Starfleet had come up with as well. The problem was that until now, Starfleet had no idea what it was that they were looking for."

"Looks like a giant mite," Carter said as he caught his breath, then looked at the Captain. "How did you stop it before?"

Chandler continued to look at the tricorder. "You'd be better qualified then me for that judgement Doctor," Chandler said. His tricorder started to whine a bit louder. "Looks like there's water further down these caverns." he told them. "I don't know about the rest of you but I could use a drink." The in truth was he was thinking of was survival. That was the first order of business as long as they were separated from the ship. But he didn't want the doctor to think he had ignored his question. He turned to face them. "The alien ship was still in the atmosphere. We were able to track it thanks to the turbulence it was creating. Then we just pounded each other until one of us blew up. We were lucky that the Constitution-class ships can handle maneuvering in atmosphere a bit better than they could."

Furious, Rachiel said, "this is information we should have had available before we entered this region. By keeping this from us you've placed the entire ship and crew into danger. For all we know the Enterprise and everyone aboard may already be dead!"

"Commander," Nicholas said, his voice stern but still relatively soft. He nodded back toward the other scientists who could hear everything with the acoustics of the cave. Now was not the time to have someone lose morale, nor their faith in the command staff. He let the unspoken chastisement settle for a moment then spoke again, his tone softer. "He also didn't warn us of supernovas, Orion pirates or giant robot monsters. If we sat around listing the things that might kill us we wouldn't have time for anything else. And our time is even more precious."

Hostile alien races with the kind of technology and power the ship out there had displayed was not in the same league as supernova, black holes, or pirates.. the Doctor might be willing to let an inexperienced officer get them killed but she wasn't.

He looked at them both, feeling like his old schoolmaster dealing with kids on the playground. "As of this moment, our discussion topics are limited to food and water, then secondary survival needs. Once those are secured, you can argue all you like until a ship rescues us."

What she said was true the ship could be destroyed and the crew dead. In fact it was something he had already thought about. But he was hoping that was just regret for not being up there and being stuck down here. "I was under direct orders from the CNC himself that this was need to know. His orders were specific that no one under my command was to learn of this from me unless we encountered them again." he told them. He hated that argument, even as he said it he hated it. Through out history far worse things had happened thanks to officers just following orders. "Also there was no evidence that whoever they are would be in this sector. That's why Starfleet sent us this way until we had time to test out the new systems on the ship." he added. "There: looks like there's water and vegetation this way." he told them and started walking that way.

Watching him, she ran a scan with her tricorder than said "Watch your step. The mineral content of the rock is interfering with tricorder scans. We might not be only ones in here with thoughts of dinner time."

Nick picked his way along, looking at his own tricorder for confirmation before putting it away. "The deposit must run deep if we're getting this much interference.

Chandler continued heading forward, and sometimes climbing over rock when he had to as he continued to make his way to what the tricorder was telling him was fresh food and vegetation. They walked nearly a kilometer when he saw a light at what looked like the opening of a cave. He cautiously made his way to it and then stopped as he got to the edge. "Oh WOW!" Those two words seemed so inaddiquate for what it was he was seeing before him.

After a moment spent in slow contemplation of the view before them, Bryce said only "That is not something which is encountered everyday."

"Well we won't have to worry about supply," Nick said, stepping closer and pulling a sample vial out of his case. "We'll have to send people in shifts when they need it though. If we're all this deep into the caves, the ship won't detect us." He went to the edge of one of the streams pouring into the main body of water and caught a small sample in his vial, and scanned it with the tricorder. "Safe and sweet," he said, looking at the other two. "Potable."

Chandler nodded in agreement with the Doctor. "If the fruit on these trees are also edible then we should be good for awhile." he said. Though in truth he hoped they wouldn't be there that long. As he looked around and saw what actually looked like steps carved into the rock. He walked over to where they began. "This isn't a natural formnation here... not close enough to the water for that to be the source of it." He followed the steps with his eyes and saw it lead down towards a dirt road that seemed to lead to a valley below. "Let's get some of the crew to start collecting the water, and getting it to the others. I also want someone to check the fruit and make sure it can be eaten." he said and then paused. "Then I'm going to go checkout where that road leads to."


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