USS Omaha
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A Small Bump In the Road

Posted on Mon Nov 22, 2021 @ 7:30pm by Captain Jason Faulkner

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

Jason was on the bridge, monitoring the three away teams that were on the surface. Thus far nothing of note had turned up. The oceanographers were puttering around in a freshly replicated submersible and were reporting that the sea life seemed normal. Another team composed mostly of biologists were reporting much the same on land, with the exception that there seemed to be more plants with exotic trace minerals than usual. They'd observed a couple of the giant bug-possibly-people from a distance as well, apparently popping up occasionally to each some of that plant life before returning to deep underground caverns. Lt. Bren had just landed to do some geological survey and hopefully would have some results for that too.

"Helm, the science team is having some trouble getting good scans of that northern mountain range," Jason said, reading a notice on his chair display. "Let's take her down to two hundred kilometers for the next couple of orbits and adjust our angle for a better view."

"Aye, sir," replied the petty officer currently in Bren's chair.

A few more minutes passed as the ship's moved into its new trajectory. Jason studied some of the maps they had generated, noting where the tachyon signals were coming from. It was increasingly clear that much of the activity was well below ground. He was starting to think the next away mission may involve some spelunking to track the bugs down.

"Huh," Ensign Killix said at ops. "That's odd."

"What's odd?" Jason asked, turning to face the female Bolian officer.

"We just got a minor impact alarm on the starboard nacelle, hull plate twenty-six alpha two-oh-five. No damage, looks like just a little bump."

"Nothing on the proximity alerts?"

"No, sir."

"It could just be a micrometeorite. If it came in behind us, it would have avoided the nav deflector and the relative velocity may have been slow enough not to trigger an alert. Just mark it down to have a maintenance bot check it out with the next hull care cycle."

"Yes, sir." Killix started to enter some commands, then paused. "There it goes again. Looks like the next plate over."

Jason considered whether it could just be a leftover problem from the ship's previous incident. "Run a diagnostic on the alarm sensors."
"It all shows clear, sir. I can schedule a maintenance team to go out, but we'll need to power down the warp drive to - there's another, port nacelle this time."

"Do an internal sensor sweep for life signs."

"It's hard to get a clear scan that close to the warp coils sir. Nothing determinate, but I am picking up elevated tetryon readings."

Jason glanced at the reports he had been reading with a sinking feeling. "Frame twenty-six is on the outer side, right? Get us an optical view from the saucer."

"Aye, sir."

An image of the nacelle appeared on the view screen. It zoomed in to show a pair of iridescent beetles meandering around the hull. They didn't seem to be doing much, just walking about and occasionally spreading their wings.

"Get me a sensor sweep between us and the planet, maximum resolution. Set the detection threshold to the lowest setting."

"Sir, I'm now picking up about two dozen tetryon sources and small objects approaching us from the planet." The screen switched to a sensor display, tracking the blips."

"Raise shields - no, belay that." The bugs didn't seem to be doing anything harmful - yet - and letting a bunch of intelligent beings go splat on the shields would not be good for first contact. "Time to arrival?"

"About thirty seconds."

"Stand by." Jason waited until the bugs gently thumped one by one onto the nacelles. On the sensors he could see more starting to gather on the surface around the mountains. "Increase orbital distance to forty thousand kilometers. Raise shields."

"Aye, sir."

As the ship rapidly increased distance from the atmosphere, Jason watched the display. Several sensor blips that had been rising started to turn around.

"It's always something new," he said to himself. He activated his comm panel. "Barton, Vasquez, Cooper, and Narud, report to the bridge. We have a small bug problem."



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