USS Omaha
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Three Ensigns and a Lieutenant

Posted on Mon Jan 17, 2022 @ 4:08am by Ensign Theo Ayar & Lieutenant JG Jayden Bren & Ensign Zayde Bridger & Ensign Emily Rose

Mission: Episode 2: Cicada Summer
Location: Optera 4
Timeline: Mission Day 4 at 1200

Around local noon on this part of Optera, the sound of birdsong and chirping insects was interrupted by the chiming whine of the transporter. Admist various rocky formations and scrub, four shimmering pillars resolved into Starfleet officers. Junior officers, to be more specific. Their mission: to boldly go to a world technically gone to before by their superiors, but not in their particular spot. To seek out new life, and not get mauled by it. To meet a new civilization without starting an interstellar war.

Also, more specifically and helpfully according to the pre-mission instructions found in their inboxes that morning, to take samples of local geological formations, flora, and fauna, and investigate a cluster of alien subspace transmissions that might be different or might just be the sorting algorithm working out a few bugs.

Zayde glanced around as soon as he materialized, taking in the area. Nothing look to particulary dangerous, althoug he supposed that was why they had Emily along. Not that he was at all intimidated by his girlfriend carrying a bigger phaser than he was. Not in the least. 

"Well, this looks lovely," Emily said, looking around. "Orders sir?"

Jayden looked around for who was going to answer before he realized she was talking to him.  "Oh, right." he said, pulling out his tricorder to see if there was anything of interest in any particular direction.  "It looks like there's a concentration of plant and wildlife on the other side of this outcropping.  We might as well head that way and take some samples of the rock on the way."

"Sounds good to me, sir. I'll scan for anything that stands out," Theo said, shifting his backback full of geology equipment and sample containers a bit. He pulled out his own tricorder. "At least it looks like a nice day for a walk."

"Until some blue goo tries to eat us," Zayde pointed out.

"We're, like, fifty light-years from where that happened, what's the chances of weird goo turning up twice?"

"He makes a good point," Emily said, kneeling down to look at a eight petaled flower. "And no Mr. Bridger, I don't think we want to actually know the odds."

"I wasn't going to say anything," Zayde insisted.

"A very old saying on Trill..." Jayden chirped in as he read the readings of his tricorder, "'never tell me the odds.'  It works well for both things you want to happen and things you don't."

Zayde did a head tilt. "Huh, I think I'll store that one for future use."

"Anybody finding anything of interest?" Jayden asked, trying to remember he was the one supposed to be leading and monitoring the team.

"Define of interest?" Emily asked.

"I might have something," Theo said. He pointed toward a nearby ridge. "I'm picking up some duranium and saurium over that way. It's hard to get a clear reading because of interference from the rest of the rocks, but it seems fairly concentrated and doesn't match the rest of the geology. You don't usually find those sort of metals in this type of karst formation."

"Does that point to anything?" Emily asked. 

The sciences had never been her strong suit, so she wasn't exactly sure what it was that Theo was talking about.

"I mean..." Theo shrugged slightly. "Maybe? This system has a lot of dilithium. Saurium's chemically related, it's why they're both used in power systems. The batteries on most of our equipment uses saurium krellide - phasers, tricorders, commbadges, pretty much anything that needs to hold a large charge for long periods of time. Anyways, it could be from a glacial erratic or meteor. The duranium's a little stranger, half the reason we use it as a structural material is that it's chemically inert and doesn't hold a static charge. I wouldn't expect them to be anywhere near each other in nature, but I'm just going off what my Geo for engineers course said and that was mostly focused on gathering replicator feedstock in the field."

Emily nodded in understanding. "Sounds fascinating."

Zayde stopped and knelt down, looking at his tricorder. "That's all the same material you'd find in most of our equipment; phasers, tricorders, even most ground vehicles, even the trace amounts of iron and nickel that I am picking up."

"Maybe the last ship to pass through left a probe behind," Theo suggested. "Should we take a look?"

Zayde shrugged. "Couldn't hurt to look."

"Agreed," Emily said, nodding along. 

Jayden nodded in agreement.  "If its not something youd typically find, it's definitely worth a look." he said, taking a look over Theo's shoulder onto his tricorder screen.  "I'll take the lead on the way, then we'll see what we come across."

"Its weird though," Zayde said, looking at his own tricorder as they started walking. "You'd think we'd be able to pick up some sort of power signature... I mean assuming what we're reading is any sort of technology."

"It's possible that the planet's natural energy field masked something this small," Theo said. "We've been having all sorts of probably getting good scans, a lot more than the last ship did. Of course, that could just be the ship being the ship."

"The Omaha acting up on you?" Emily asked.

They crossed over a ridge line and the source of the unusual reading became clear. One of the space beetles was wandering in circles, not far from the entrance of a cave. It couldn't go far, though. If it went more than a dozen or so meters in any direction, there would be a sudden flare of green light as a it touched a hemispherical forcefield. Just barely visible and mostly buried in the dirt was a circular projector of some kind.

"Well, that's certainly interesting," Emily said, looking at the beetle.

Zayde whistled and then looked down at his tricorder. "That forcefield is putting out a lot of energy...though I can't really pinpoint where it's coming from exactly. There's a good deal of interference coming from the surrounding areas."

"There's probably a power source buried or concealed nearby," Theo said. "It's hard to see from here but I don't think that's a standard Starfleet model."

Zayde nodded in agreement and then peered closer at the forcefield. "Do you think it's something they put up? The bugs I mean."

Emily considered his response. They hadn't seen any sort of constructs or other structures so far, although it was certainly possible they were just hidden underground. "Seems like they're not entirely sure of where it is...I mean if they put it there why would they keep bumping into it? It also looks like a technology that we use, I mean I know the basic engineering prinicples are the same but I'd think they might have something different considering all the exotic particles we picked up."

"Do they even have hands? I'm not sure - whoa." Theo was interrupted by the Opteran throwing itself several times against the forcefield, this time in their general direction. It bounced off each time, finally staggering back in a shaken manner. "Whoever made it, I don't think this one wants to be inside. Should we help it get out?"

"What if whoever or whatever trapped it get's mad at us for releasing it? Or what if its been quarinted for some reason?" Zayde asked.

Emily cocked her head. "I mean I suppose that could be true. But according to the away team, the one they met could have attacked them but didn't. I think its reasonable to assume that this one would follow that same pattern."

"I'm afraid it might hurt itself if it keeps trying to bust out," Theo said.

"Think we could just blast it?" Emily asked.

"If it's designed just to contain something, it could be weak to phaser fire," Theo replied. "If we found the right frequency, we could keep the setting low enough to be safe to the bug and our surroundings."

Zayde nodded and started tapping commands into his tricorder. "I think I can tap into the right frequency... looks like its the upper theta band, 3.54 to be precise."

The Opteran threw itself at the field again. This time when it bounced back, one of its wings couldn't quite close correctly. It let out a stream of hisses and clicks, rubbing itself with its forward legs.

"Okay, now I definitely think we should free it," Theo said.

Emily adjusted her phaser rifle. "Here goes."

She sighted up the device and fired. The beam of energy shorted the forcefield, causing it the spark. Seconds later the barrier dropped, freeing the trapped bug.

The Opteran, noticing the flash, cautiously moved again, then scurried past where the field had been. Its wings started buzzing as it made walked in a circle several time, pausing for a second each time it faced Emily. After a few repetitions, it tried to fly off, but couldn't get far due to its damaged wing. It landed a short distance again and started poking at its wing with one of its legs.

Meanwhile, Theo stepped forward and knelt by the force field generator. It was still smoking a bit as he brushed away some of the dirt covering it. He started scanning but then stopped as he uncovered a familiar symbol: a spread-winged raptor grasping a pair of planets.

"I think we may need the captain, and maybe the doctor," Theo said to the rest. "Because this is way above my job description."



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