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Far Across the Stars

Posted on Saturday, 5 February 2022 - 7:59pm by Captain Pippa Whitley & Lieutenant K'Var & Ensign Liánhuā Bai & Lieutenant JG Ethan Connelly

Mission: Operation: Crimson Kaleidoscope

One report had been the breadcrumb that the crew of the USS Standing Bear had been looking for. An old Federation listening post that was erected along what had been at the time, the Romulan Neutral Zone had momentarily caught a blip. That blip left an ion trail long enough for a small scouting vessel to launch a probe to scan it. The results were conclusive. It was a Federation signature, a shuttle.

Logistics and Intelligence had worked closely, charting out the movement of several fleets that operated in the region. All starhips and their auxiliary craft were accounted for. All evidence albeit mostly conjure, speculation, and hypothesis was pointing towards the shuttle belonging to the Standing Bear.

Now, they had a general direction or vicinity. The more difficult part was pinpointing where and why. They knew the motive was to probably cross over into the universe that the other Soral had come from, but old Romulan space was extensive, and currently carved and cobbled by factions and refugees.

Captain Whitley had been asleep in their quarters as members of her crew were awake burning the midnight oil alongside the 'night watch' while most of the crew were asleep. It was times like this amidst the calm that the most profound discoveries or revelations could be made. This was not a scripted entertainment program - action happened even when the command staff were asleep. That was just the roll of the dice.

Not too far away, seated at the Science console, Lieutenant Connelly was awake. Barely. Several cups of coffee had gotten him this far, however, he was pretty sure he was reading the same lines of sensor data over and over. And what was with his chair?!

He had adjusted it several times, with varying degrees of success, yet it seemed determined to go back to the settings Lieutenant Kingsley had preferred. Which would be fine, if he wasn’t notably taller. He stood, stretching his legs as he glanced across at Lt K’Var, deciding that breaking the silence may help more than more coffee. “How are you liking the big chair, Lieutenant?”

"It's quite comfortable" the Caitian gave an almost silly looking grin toward the man at the Science station. She had experience in the center seat, most of were situations just like this. Working the late shift and spending a lot of time very bored honestly, which gave her time to catch up on her reports and intel that she was privy to.

A young petty officer had been at the operations station when updated information came in. "Lieutenant Connelly," the young woman said, turning her seat slightly. "Another relay station detected a small Federation shuttle matching the signature of our missing shuttle. I'm patching it over to the science station" reported Petty Officer Barbara Jenkins. She was approaching thirty with a short brunette bob.

"It looks to be from one of the newer automated relay stations that we constructed after the Romulan incident, Sir," she added. "The Rator system by the looks of it," the woman stated. The system was well within what had used to be the edge of Romulan space, past the former neutral zone.

“Interesting,” the science officer commented as he threw himself back into his chair and called up the data. “Fascinating… as granny would say. Hmm….” He fell silent as he worked, quickly becoming absorbed in his task as he cross referenced what he saw with the last scans of the area. “Lieutenant K’Var?”

"What is it, Lieutenant?" she asked the Science Officer and turned her full attention to him.

“You know how people hate to wake captains in the middle of the night? I think we should make an exception. I think we’ve found our needle in a haystack although I need to run this through the astrometric database to be absolutely sure.”

The turbolift doors had opened before K'Var could response, and Captain Whitley stepped out onto the Bridge. They sliced the air with a dismissive hand gesture. "No need to wake the Captain. Insomnia has done that already," Whitley commented as they made their way over to the science station. "Lieutenant, it sounded like you had something?"

“Yes…” Connelly shifted so the Captain could see his workstation and the displays. “Another sighting of our shuttle. Or rather their engine signature - combined with the other signature I believe we have a heading and - honestly- it makes sense. The shuttle was headed towards what was the very heart of Romulan territory. Or what’s left of it. The course heading is clear.

With the destruction of the star, that causes damage and in this case, maybe it also gives this other Soral a way home. This ship was there not too long ago but we weren’t searching for anomalies. But I’d bet my life on it that this is where they went and where we need to go.”

Captain Whitley looked at Petty Officer Jenkins. "Wake my Aide-de-Camp, but do not disturb Commander Soral" ordered Whitley, an order that potentially raised a brow or two by not waking their First Officer.

Placing a hand on their hip, Whitley studied the readings. "The Romulun star...what's left there at least," noted the Commanding Officer. "It makes sense. It is going to take a lot of energy and a very thin, fragile piece of space to open a rift into another universe, or having already opened one. That is an ideal spot for it. Everyone has been staying far away from the epicenter for years since Romulus and Remus went..." Pippa made a gesture, closed fist and them opening it suddenly. "Kaboom."

“Quite,” Ethan nodded. “There are theories that there are several regions where there is a thin veil - for want of a better word - between different universes but little hard evidence. But if I’m right we could potentially just need to follow the trail or at worst, use our deflector dish or even a few adapted torpedos to open a path big enough for our ship. We will know for sure when we get closer.”

Pippa nodded. "We are still several days...nearly two weeks at high warp from where they were last detected," Captain Whitley noted looking at where the shuttle was detected and where the Standing Bear was cruising around at a standard speed. "Time we do not have to waste" added the Commanding Officer shaking their head.

Captain Whitley grabbed a PaDD that had been lying near the console. "Borrowing this for a moment," Pippa said excusing their reach with an explanation. "If we bring the Quantum Slipstream Drive online, we can use it up until that point," Pippa said placing an index finger on the science console screen displaying star charts. "That will cut our two weeks down to thirty-six hours give or take. We cannot use slipstream beyond this point though, but right to the neighborhood should be plenty, especially if we have an idea of where they are heading."

“It would be logical and we don’t have ships in the area,” Ethan replied, “even if there was, I got the impression we want to handle this one ourselves.”

Pippa made their way over towards the command pit. "Thanks for keeping the seat warm for me, K'Var. All calm until now I take it?" Captain Whitley inquired. They gestured to the tactical station.

"Thank you, Captain" the Lieutenant was on her way to the tactical station and ready for the Captains orders. She was glad that she had gained the trust of the Captain so quickly that they let the Caitian lead the third shift.

Pippa nodded. "If you are still feeling alert enough, Lieutenant, it looks like we will be heading to old Romulan space soon. It is pretty rough in that region. The Federation has been staying away from it in the past few years. Piracy is high and the Romulans that remain are not hesitant to fire on a Federation starship."

The Chief Tactical Officer was right where she was needed "I am fully capable of my duties, Captain" the Lieutenant replied politely.

Lianhua arrived on the bridge, silent as always and waited to be acknowledged before speaking.

Pippa greeted the woman with a pleasant nod of acknowledgement. "Good morning, Ensign. It looks like we may have a good idea where our stolen shuttle was heading, at least where we expect to find our missing lieutenant. How comfortable are you with taking the helm?" Pippa gestured to the flight controls, the helmsman's seat was vacated.

"Good Morning Ma'am. I am most comfortable taking helm." She said softly with a slight smile as she moved toward the helm station and sitting down began to manoeuvre the ship. "what is the heading ma'am?" Lianhua asked clamly.

Captain Whitley took their seat in the Captain's chair and settled in. The decision to leave Commander Soral was a strategic one, and one that Whitley was concerned would ruffle the Vulcan First Officer a bit. It was Pippa's intention to take the USS Standing Bear out and under the power of the QSD before waking Soral. The Captain was still concerned how effective her First Officer would be all things considered. Pippa trusted him, but did not trust that he would not try to delay the pursuit.

"Connelly will provide you with the coordinates," Pippa said looking over at the science station and giving a nod. "Inform engineering to bring the QSD online, lay in a course and engage at will." Pippa knew this was just the beginning. They may find the other Soral, but doubted he would simply surrender.


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