Ships log Kenesh recording: Independence stands ready, repairs are complete. Communications with Discovery and Samson verify they are ready as well. I’ve been studying the scans from the Magnus; Vekk is one thorough soul, the detail of the report show his years of commitment as a security officer. I’ve taken note of the inventory…
The general alarm sounds with in the ship. Kenesh opens a link to the bridge expecting her first officer to answer and is surprised when the navigator responds.
“What’s going on?”
“Captain the general alarm has sounded there has been weapons discharge with in Illusion. Noel and a security team from Defiance are aboard Illusion and so is the exec. She left the bridge as the alarm sounded, grabbed a rescue pack and transported over.”
“Keep me apprised of the situation I’m on my way to the bridge.”
Closing the link Kenesh made her way to the bridge. Her exec, a talented individual who has contributed much to the success Shahrazad has now returned to space. A place she has found more to her liking, but what happened aboard Illusion? That question would be answered shortly.
Before she could take a step forward a figure materialized next to Sarah and said.
“I’ve got the child, Noel disarm KO now.”
Moving to the bunk Noel removed the weapon from KO’s hands and took note of her condition. She was pale, covered in sweat and shaking ever so slightly. Turning to Sarah she saw her eyes were open and she was trying to speak.
“Scholar where? How did I? KO! How’s KO?”
Sarah tried to sit up Scholar restrained her and said.
“Lie still everything’s going to be fine… Noel, swap with me I need to tend to KO next.”
They swapped positions; at that time the security detail checked in. They reported the ship was secure and that Lyra was off line not responding at all. Noel told them to remain on the bridge and that everything below was secure.
“Grandmother why are you here, why do I feel so strange… I was coming to visit KO, received some very strange readings… I think I, no the door was locked I had Orion open it and…”
“Just rest Sarah you’ve had quite an episode.”
Scholar was scanning KO and opened a link to Independence motioning Noel to stand aside she said.
“Noel I’m taking them with me, you get to the bridge and piece together what happened. You’ll have Sarah back shortly KO that’s another matter… Independence Scholar here, chief transport my signal and KO’s to the isolation ward. Transport Sarah to med bay three… Step back Noel I’ll be in contact soon… Chief energize…”
They vanish in a flash Noel makes her way to the bridge and sends most of the security detail back. Opening a link to Dawn she says.
“Contact command, inform them we’re down Illusion and we’re going to be short handed until Scholar figures out what the hell is going on here…”
“Shall I quote you directly or…?”
“Dawn send it, if Sobbash and Cassie don’t understand it then they’re denser than I figured. Right now I have a very interesting situation in hand hopefully Lyra will talk to me…”
“Just so you know the Suran’s are about twenty minutes out they’ve been in the outer planets scanning and I’m not sure what all they’ve found but I’m pretty sure they are going to want to talk to you or …”
“Handle it in my stead I have to get to the bottom of this mess before we do anything else... leave the link open…”
“Loud and clear Saio, Jasmine and the good Doctor Sasoum… you had to triple team me?”
“We’ve had practical experience, your daughter, and we figured she got it somewhere.”
“Well Sean looks like your mother has left a definite impression… Hopefully you’ve got some of your father in you and won’t prove as… stubborn as your mother. Lets go I want to take a walk in the garden.”
Grabbing the controls he moved the motorized chair towards the garden. Watching as they left Saio said.
“Hopefully she’ll be a ‘good’ patient the thought of having to tell Lafiel we sedated her mother…”
“Be glad Lafiel’s not here we’d have to knock them both out…”
“Doctor always the optimist you are…”
“We’re just as confused here while there shows a weapon being discharged the one KO was holding was not loaded… in fact it had never been initialized… what has Sarah told you?”
“The exam shows no injury and she wasn’t stunned at least not by any of our weaponry… I was hoping she could shed some light on this issue… have you gotten Lyra back on line?”
“No Leo and Orion have been trying but it’s a no go for the moment… I reviewed the last conversations that Lyra had with not only Sarah but Leo and Orion. Without diagnostics I would have to say Lyra’s really on the blink…”
“I’m going to try something you will need to keep a watchful eye on Lyra when I do this… I’m going to place KO in a total isolation field. I need to know if her brain is being stimulated internal or externally.”
“I don’t like the sound of what you’re implying but let me know when you’re ready. Security is still aboard and I have Lyra’s ‘plug’ in my hand. I’ll pull it at the first indication of trouble.”
“I’ll need about ten minutes more have you told command of our little problem?”
“I had Dai and Kenesh talk to Cassie, she took it rather well until she asked how everyone was and Kenesh pulled no punches. So if we can come up with an answer and soon… the Suran’s while being understanding are also getting impatience along with Eliana, she’s got some kind of ‘score’ she feels she needs to settle with that ship or it’s Captain.”
“I see before I do this I’d better tell Cassie what we are up to it won’t take long…”
“Cassie I agree but we are running short of command grade personnel the biggest problem is IF KO is really out of action who takes over Illusion?”
“Without its advance detection systems and firepower can we really feel safe about committing the balance of our resources? Not to discount the Suran’s but they are wielding older designs which…”
“Can be just as deadly as our fleet if utilized correctly… I’m sure the Suran’s are well aware they are out gunned even though they have fifty ships with them but…”
“I see your point Risch but as Sobbash puts it minus Illusion can we really…”
The sound of a motorized chair echoes in the room from the rear Plakia appears and interjects into the conversation.
“I’m surprised at you… experienced commander, there is one right before. You why don’t you ask her what she thinks about the current situation.”
After a moment of surprise and silence Plakia continues.
“I’ve been monitoring the conversation between the Suran’s and our ships and here are my recommendations. Let’s assume that KO is out of commission. The only person with any practical experience with Illusion is already aboard, that being Noel. If Sarah is able the two of them should be able to handle the ship… Dawn Dorin is more than capable of taking Defiance’s reigns… now here’s the surprise you never saw coming… Put Eliana in command of the combined fleet. The reason is everyone in this room except KO, Eli and I have had experience with Dustain and by proxy his daughter. KO and I are out of commission. Eli is an excellent commander, a prime example of that is the fleet still survives because of her actions. If Doral knows everything her father knows then Eliana should come as an unpleasant surprise to her. My opinion for what it’s worth…”
“Sari cut the orders, Sobbash consult with Plakia and offer support from this end. Inform Eliana when she’s ready she’s to proceed with the plan, capture if possible… if risk exceeds possibility then vaporize them… I’ll deal with the Suran’s later I know what I said and I also remember I told them no meant no…”
Turning around Plakia addresses Cassandra.
“Cassie, a moment alone if you please, wheel me to the back of the room and we’ll talk there.”
“Grandmother what is it you wish to discuss….”
“Not discuss child but tell you… two hours ago the third division of the ninth fleet met up with your mothers convoy and are escorting them home… before you explode hear me out… I want them back here and safe, they also are carrying materials that will be important if this operation does not go as planned. They should arrive here in seven hours. I impressed upon your mother that this was ‘your show’ and any interference would incur my wrath. Also I’m taking Sean with me he’s proving invaluable to me at this time so if you mother goes looking for him tell her I’ve got him in tow…”
“Grandmother, thank you and I’m grateful to you for all you’ve done we’ll make this work…”
“Remember I AM here you get stuck seek out my advice.”
“Fire when ready.”
KO is enveloped in a force field as its strength increases Noel takes note of Lyra’s systems becoming active.
“Scholar, Lyra’s waking up how’s KO doing?”
“She’s sleeping peacefully I’ll increase the level until Lyra’s back on line… Fascinating, this is becoming very, very interesting to say the least.”
Aboard Illusion, Lyra comes on line in quite a confused state. Linking with Leo and Orion compounds the confusion…
“Where’s KO, Sarah… why are you here… where are we and… wait… what… this is highly impossible… Leo verify this data it’s not possible I’d never let this happen…”
Lyra enters stand by mode once again however this time there is large amounts of activity showing in her memory matrix. Orion comes on line and says.
“Captain, you should know that from the moment we accessed her till she shut down the amount of data transferred equaled the past five days of ship operation. Right now Lyra is comparing what Leo and I observed to what she has in her history. I’m guessing its going to take a couple of hours to sort everything out. We are operational and can complete the mission without her if needed.”
Noel sat thinking… ‘Five days, since they launched from Shahrazad with Dai…’ a cold chill shot down her spine opening a link to Scholar she inquired.
“Can you read KO’s thoughts… if you can go back five days and see if something interfered with her?”
“I wish I could I have her in such a deep sleep… did Lyra ever return?”
“Sorry should have told you earlier, she came on line pulled the last five days of data from the rest of the ship. Expressed massive confusion and entered stand by mode once again.”
“I now understand your request, five days ago, isn’t that when they launched on this current excursion?”
“That is correct, something happened shortly after they left…”
“Or right before they left… it will take sometime but I’ll get in her head and let you know… I’m sending you back something important, should be materializing next to you about now…”
A rather stunned Sarah appeared next to her taking a half step forward she said.
“Reporting for duty, although I’m still not quite sure what happened.”
Looking towards Lyra’s interface and seeing the massive amount of activity she continues.
“Looks like I’m not the only one who’s a bit confused… I’ve been briefed on what has transpired shall we tell Eliana we are ready to proceed?”
“Not yet I want to know what happened because if it’s happened before it could happen again… we’ll move out with the fleet but until I know, combat is out of the question.”
Illusion is operational to a point; Noel wants to avoid combat until she knows what caused the incident aboard the ship… I tend to agree however our quarry is getting away. In that thought we have set an intercept course to rendezvous with the Magnus. Estimated one hour thirty two minutes due to the Suran’s limited top speed.”
“Course laid in and on the screen, all ships report ready… your orders Captain?”
“Bring the fleet to battle ready and engage, factor seven.”
Lobnas disappears in the viewer and the track to Magnus appears…
“Captain; come to the bridge…”
Making his way to the bridge what the long-range scan show stops him short of his seat… moving towards the viewer he says.
“Magnify section one forty to one seventy.”
The image fills the viewer and Vekk reacts…
“All stop, where is the dreadnought?”
“Just on the edge of the belt they’ve just slowed your orders?”
“Take all this information, our recent log and load it in a probe… Do we know where the fleet is?”
“We have the rendezvous co ordinates I can back track from there.”
“Very well cloak the probe launch it towards the fleet set it to yelp when in range. There will be no communications from this ship. Keep scanning I want more detail of what lies ahead…”
“Make for that gaseous cloud position us in the shadow of the large moon and set our sensors to wide band passive scanning I want a good look into that system.”
“Aye captain we are in position and scanning.”
“Oh, Scholar I don’t know what you did but the headache I’ve had for the last week is gone complete peace in my head thank you.”
“KO do you remember when you first had the headache”
“It was after… after dinner right before we left… but once I lay down it went away only to return when… I… can I go back to sleep Scholar? All of the sudden I’m really tired…”
“Go ahead and rest KO think about when the headache returned and we’ll talk again.”
Gently releasing KO, Scholar analyzed the scan that was taken during their conversation. Something interfered with KO while she was at the space dock and something aboard the ship triggered her present condition. Betting on experience what ever affected KO infected Lyra… Noel needed to get Lyra on line and have her analyze what has happened. For now she was going to issue a warning to Noel.
“Grandmother, Scholar on scramble and urgent.”
Opening the link Scholar appeared and said.
“What ever occurred happened at space-dock it affected KO and infected Lyra… unless she’s explains herself when she comes back online keep her from interfacing with you and the ship… it might be nothing but I feel what KO has she has and I don’t know if it is passable along or not.”
Closing the link Orion’s interface activates and he says.
“Captain Lyra has been isolated since she went off line the first time… there was a time in the past she went rogue… Leo and I both sensed that might be a possibility so she can access data but not interface with the rest of the ship… Scholar is on the right track I’ve done an independent review of Lyra’s data and something did happen right before we left space-dock what that is I do not know…”
“Sarah; open a separate and scrambled link to our ships and let me know when they are ready.”
Noel takes the center seat positions herself in the center of the viewer and waits.
Eliana stood and walked to the center of the tactical station and said.
“Open the link on the main viewer.”
A tired Noel Ekuryua appeared on the screen looking directly at the viewer she explains the current situation aboard Illusion with the following statement.
“I would say we are eight percent operational, tactically we are one hundred percent but I’ve had to isolate Lyra and have Leo and Orion balance her duties. Be careful how you use us unlike KO I can’t out think this vessel and I can’t let it completely think for itself. I thought you should know these limitation as soon I… we became aware of them.”
Eliana’s expression changed as Noel spoke. She thought something was off about the way KO was acting and after monitoring Scholar’s communication with Cassandra followed by this conversation with Noel it became imperative that the dreadnought be stopped no matter what it took.
“Noel I understand and by the time we rendezvous you’ll have a better insight of what going on, right now, if you can supply the punch we’ll need then that’s your job… we’ll cover the rest… and on the subject of rest why don’t you get some before we engage the enemy…”
The yelper from the Magnus probe sounds as Eliana was finishing her conversation.
“Grab that probe and bring it aboard, Noel, I’ll let you know what the probe contains Samson out.”
“I’ve lost data from the probe… someone silenced its yelper… I’m assuming it reached the fleet.”
“Very well … bring up the images I have on display six and give me your opinion.”
The images appear and the tactical officer turns pale…
“Sir if I didn’t know better we’re staring at… Six or more dreadnoughts…”
“That’s my opinion; we’ve stumbled on a graveyard but bring up this image the one on display nine. It looks familiar can we adjust our orbit to get a better look at it?”
“It’ll take a couple of minutes we’ve almost entered into the daylight I’ll need to position us below the pole of the moon to get a better view.”
“Proceed and when able I want high resolution scans of that area… its far enough removed from the dreadnoughts that we should be safe doing that… and where is our quarry?”
“Still at the edge of the belt, all systems seem to be in stand by mode… Scanning the area now…”
The scan starts as a large explosion from within the system is witnessed; the light from the explosion illuminates the area being scanned as the tactical officer says…
“Scan complete and that explosion it was our quarry… in fact we’re getting energy readings from one of the…”
“DAMN! Helm, get us out of here, head for the rendezvous, battle stations and …”
The first salvo barely misses the Magnus slipping through a debris field they make haste to the rendezvous.
“Captain Comm. system is a shambles shields at thirty percent cloak is functional…”
“Is the emergency beacon operational?”
“Yes it is…”
“Activate it with an ‘out numbered’ engagement code…”
“With in the ships…”
“Yes it will give our location and the fleet an idea of what’s going on, now do it before they launch another attack.”
“Exactly Eliana, Orion is analyzing the images and has concluded that any if not all of those ships might be operational.”
“Six or more against what we have no way… Doral is more devious than her father ever could be…”
“Consider this… unless there are crews there they can only muster one maybe two ships…”
“That’s one hell of an IF Noel. What IF you are wrong?”
“I suggest Illusion moves forward and gets a good look at what is a…”
The beacon from the Magnus interrupts the rest of the conversation. It’s being shown on every ship in the fleet and Eliana takes note of the information being displayed.
“That’s not a normal distress code it’s an engagement code… looks like at least one of those ships is now active and Vekk is bringing it right to us… time to rendezvous?”
“Eleven minutes present speed…”
“Separate the fleet, dispersal pattern nova, battle stations, Noel your job is blasting away once Magnus gets here.”
“My sensors show Magnus is no longer being pursued… verify my readings.”
“Verified, we still can’t communicate with them… wonder what going on?”
“My guess is that they were attacked… probably lost comm. And high-tailed it this way… I wonder if Vekk knows he’s not being pursued. Wonder how much damage Magnus took?”
“We’ll know in about nine minutes, everyone stay sharp and Noel is Lyra on line?”
“Unfortunately not… I hope its unfortunate… however there has been a decrease in memory matrix activity. I don’t need her operational to wallop a dreadnought just so you know that…”
“Never mind the shields how’s the comm. coming? Also silence the beacon.”
“Captain, that blast fused several circuits, going to be a couple of hours before…”
“Chief I need the comm. Prioritize it over everything else we need to be able to communicate.”
“Aye Captain… how’s your code these days? If you want to talk I can rig the bow docking and navigational lights to a key and you’ll be set.”
“Chief have I ever mentioned you are underpaid?”
“Add in overworked and you’ve got a deal I’ll have you a switch shortly.”
“Let’s assume their communications took a hit. Guess we’ll have to wait till they get here and I don’t know a long string and two tin cans perhaps?”
*“Seems Eliana is in a better mood… tin cans… ha”
“Well there is another way to communicate when they show up we’ll have to see…”
“Problem is not sure where they are anymore silencing the beacon also means they are no longer on the scans.”
“I’ve projected their course we all need to back off about one hundred thousand kilometers from the point before we arrive...”
“You think Magnus will just show up, surely they have tactical… ah don’t they?”
“Eliana, Dai here assuming you’ve caught my drift I strongly suggest we don’t arrive at the rendezvous, instead we should stay clear of that point I’ll bet Vekk’s cloaked and might not have sensors…”*
“Agreed, everyone stops short and scans the point, one of us should see them, hopefully Magnus drops cloak before arriving then again...”
“Vekk’s an experienced officer I seriously doubt…”
“That’s all well and fine Admiral you’re assuming he wasn’t injured in the exchange that the Magnus was involved in… we survive on the ‘what if’ theory and what if Vekk’s out of commission that’s why I said what I did.”
“Never gave that any thought you could be correct we’ll stop short as well…”
“Scholar um there was a person, I’m sure she was Abh, at the spaceport right before we left… she tried to blend in but there are some unmistakable physical features we Abh have… that’s the last thing I remember before the headaches started.”
“KO, relax and focus on that woman…”
Scholar approached KO and linked their minds… an image of a woman undoubtedly Abh appeared in her mind she was wearing a hooded jacket her face wasn’t not visible, but Scholar caught sight of a birthmark on her left forearm. Transferring that image to a terminal she transmitted it to Shahrazad with the recommendation that she was to be detained and questioned at once. Backing away from KO she said.
“I got what I needed to get, you get some rest…”
“Scholar has Dai finished then negotiations with the miners?”
“Rest now I’ll go forward and check on that.”
“Good Scholar I’m sleepy again…”
KO fell asleep and Scholar headed to the bridge, taking Kenesh aside she brought her up to date. It did not sit well with Kenesh at all.
“You’re sure that someone or ones have tampered with KO’s mind?”
“KO and Lyra… I believe in an attempt to disable Illusion and if you think about it they almost succeeded, almost that is. Pass along to Eliana my thoughts and let’s hope there isn’t a saboteur at either the spaceport or on the planet itself.”
“Magnus will be here shortly I’ll…”
“Kenesh before any decisions are made, Eliana has to know, I’ll leave the timing to you. Right now I’ll be with KO if you need me.”
Scholar left the bridge just as Magnus made its appearance the ship oriented itself towards Samson and started transmitting, via light signal, the information it discovered.
“We can send data via the laser link… visual and audio communications are still out. I need a modulator which one of the ships in our fleet should have as a spare… Signal the fleet and ask… I’ve taken the logs and encoded them they are ready to transmit.”
Vekk signaled Samson and started transmitting; Samson wasn’t the only ship receiving Vekk’s data Orion had positioned it’s sensors to intercept Vekk’s transmission as well.
On the bridge Sara and Noel were greeted with images flashing across the main viewer as Orion searched through Vekk’s transmission finally a set of long range images appeared on the viewer at first they were grainy but as the explosion occurred they were light in almost daylight conditions… the images froze as Orion enhanced them once the resolution was clear Leo started to comment.
“You’re hunch was correct Orion I’m running the image through the data base now should have an answer shortly…”
Lyra’s terminal came to life, an image was displayed and silhouette matched to the image. One word appeared on the display… Pegasus…
“Captain Illusion just went dark, cloaked and departed the area at high speed.”
“Not possible and unable to track them, projecting estimated course from the data we had before they went dark.”
Along the line laid the planet just out of range of the dreadnoughts. Eliana started reviewing Vekk’s scans from that area and found a single ship trapped in the planets orbit. Trying to enhance the image she said.
“Commander to Fleet… Illusion has left the area and seems to be heading towards a ship in orbit about the planet just outside of the dreadnought nest. We’ve lost all communications with Illusion.”
Moving to communications she says.
“Signal Vekk, as him about the single ship he found and if he knows why Illusion would be interested.”
“Engineering I need to be able to speak how soon till we can communicate?”
“Shuttle bay on is clear I’ve managed to get on shuttle operational it will get you to their flagship how ever like everything else it can not communicate… what ever that blast was it knocked out all of our communications devices.”
Vekk signaled Samson he was coming over and would need guidance to their docking bay. Eliana turned the ship towards Magnus and lit the docking bay up. Vekk arrived safely and once aboard consulted with Eliana.
“Scanning… Confirmed… Pegasus identity match, starting comprehensive scans.”
“Leo I’d like an explanation when you have time.”
Leo’s interface flashed and then a startled voice answered.
“Um Captain, our apologies, the original programming kicked in and…”
“To rescue your own kind no matter what?”
“Along those lines… yes however if we had been in combat…”
“You would have waited then ran off with no notice?”
“Captain, accept our … wait Leo already expressed that… the result of the scans shows the ship intact and capable of being revived. However given our proximity to the enemy…”
“So Orion you have realized just how close we’ve gotten? I would guess while you’re at it why don’t you gather some information so this trip won’t be a complete loss.”
“Information already gathered placing Pegasus in tow beam and returning to the rendezvous.”
“Good while you’re at it you might inform Samson we’re returning so we don’t get a warm welcome?
“Touché Captain… we did act without consulting it will not happen again.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it, time to the fleet?”
“About fifteen minutes at our reduced speed.”
To Be Continued in: Pegasus.