On the Hunt
Caradan was on the Bridge. Despite the rotation, she had asked Ziara to extend her shift. She requested Chief Ran’s presence in Stellar Cartography for his assistance and of course Lieutenant Mindo in Engineering for some of his miracle workings. The Tornado zipped through space at cruising warp speed. The viewscreen was off but Caradan had seen the starry streaks enough times to envision them as they stretched by.
“Lieutenant Rrareth,” Caradan spoke up from the captain’s chair, “are we following the flight path of the prison transport precisely?” she asked for the third time. She did not want anything to go wrong. If Yana’s advice was sound then they would have to be within a few thousand kilometers of the Klingon warp signatures to pick up anything. But one step at a time. They had to be right on top of the transport’s flight plan.
Ziara's tail twitched in irritation. The course had not changed suddenly in the last fifteen minutes. However, she kept the irritation out of her voice, "Aye, Ma'am." She said smoothly.
“Thank you Lieutenant,” Caradan said and she sat back in the chair. This was the first time she had been in charge of the Bridge during such an important mission. Commander Shaqdac was not present and neither was his Trill. It certainly seemed like they were trying to set her up for failure. If nothing else, Caradan was nervous. ’No slipups. Eyes and ears open.’
“Lieutenant Deloria,” Caradan did not look but shot her attention over to the Security station, “Is there anything out there? Any ships not reported to be looking for this transport?”
Caradan nodded. “Good to hear. Let me know the second anything suspicious appears on sensors.”
“Bridge to Engineering,” Caradan called out.
=/\= Mindo here. =/\= came the tinny response of the communicator.
"Lieutenant," Caradan said in response to Mindo's voice, "I need you to bring up the schematics of that Klingon prison transport ship. Primarily, look at the ship's mass and weight. Find a way to make the Tornado appear to be the same mass and weight. Essentially, I need you to make us appear lighter...or heavier."
"OK," said Mindo. "The best way to do that is lower the gravity on the ship to make us appear lighter than we are. We'll have to adjust the inertial dampeners temporarily as well. Should be easy to execute, but the hard part will be keeping everyone in place."
“Should not be a big deal,” Caradan said. “Luckily we will be doing this outside of Warp. Ready your team and be ready to make that happen in a moment’s notice. Leave this channel open Lieutenant. I want you to hear everything going on up here. Lieutenant Rrareth, coordinate with Chief Ran in Stellar Cartography. Our current trajectory should bring us close to a binary star system. Once he indicates we are within 5 light-minutes of that system, drop us out of Warp and engage full impulse.”
"Aye," Ziara said smoothly, "Rrareth to Ran. How does our approach vector look?" She asked.
=/\=Adjust vector by 0.02 mark -0.2 degrees. Course adjustment looks good.=/\=
"Adjusting Vector." Ziara said as she carefully adjusted their heading.
The Tornado dropped out of Warp as it was within the 5 light-minute threshold. “Forward sensors on screen,” said Caradan. The two stars orbiting each other appeared on the screen. It was certainly a beautiful sight as a yellow star and a slightly larger orange one made up the core of the star system. They both circled each other, vying for dominance and neither was winning.
“Lieutenant Rareth,” Caradan commanded, “maintain full impulse and keep us on the exact path of that transport. Lieutenant Mindo…”
"Aye, maintaining full impulse." Ziara responded.
“…Begin the sequence we discussed earlier. Make us appear to be the same weight and mass as that transport. Do not enact this procedure until my command.”
Mindo turned to Ensign Keselowsky. "Kes, have you and Crismore finished calibrating?"
“Done Boss,” Kes barked. “Just give the word. Make sure you are holding on to something.”
“Distance to the stars,” Caradan asked Ziara.
"Thirty Five Light-Seconds on mark." Ziara's tail tighted in a momentary concentration. "Mark."
“Lieutenant Rrareth, cut engines. Set us adrift. Lieutenant Mindo…proceed.”
"Aye, cutting engines." Ziara responded.
=/\= Mindo here. Hang on to your butts. =/\=
Caradan could feel the swaying of the Tornado ease into existence. She could almost feel the ship rotate in space. The Tornado began to roll slowly. ’This must have been what it felt like to be on the water,’ she thought.
Mindo made sure his LEGs had been turned off, then turned to Keselowsky. "Execute," he said with a nod.
Things began to sway, and then a light sensation occurred. Mindo began to feel himself getting dizzy, disoriented. He turned and looked at Zo, who seemed to be shaking the cobwebs out of his head.
“Looks like that bacon and hash browns with gravy was not a very good idea this morning,” Keselowsky said.
Mindo tapped his comm badge. "Mindo to bridge, I'm not sure how long we can keep this up, especially with engines off. I'm readjusting the inertial dampeners to account for the dizzying sensation. Things should start feeling better in a few seconds."
The Tornado got caught by the gravitational pull of the binary stars. Tidal forces caused the ship to rock a bit, rotate and roll. Not enough to throw people about but enough for them to fear that the floor could be jerked out from beneath their feet at any second.
The viewscreen remain active the whole time. Instead of pointing directly ahead, where the Tornado was pointed, the sensor array kept displaying what the Tornado sped toward. All the eyes on the Bridge widened as they caught a glimpse of an arching solar flare emanating from the smaller yellow star.
“Do not touch those controls, Lieutenant,” Cardan commanded to Ziara. “Mindo, we need maximum polarization of the hull right now.”
"Yes sir," replied Mindo. "Kes, I need you to..." Mindo started, but cut himself off when he saw Kes already running to a nearby terminal.
“Take the main terminal Chief.” Kes started working away on altering the weight and mass footprint the Tornado was emanating to compensate for the magnetic output of maximum polarization. “Let me know when you are ready Chief.”
Mindo looked down (or in this gravity, up?) at Zo. "Zo you OK? I need you here."
"Fine Chief," said Zo, moving delicately to his station. Zo nodded an affirmative to Mindo once he was ready.
Mindo pushed with his left hand onto the main console and put in the required commands. "OK, Kes. Hit it!"
In unison, Keselowsky and Mindo adjusted the weight/mass footprint of the Tornado and the polarization of the hull respectively. Despite greater protection from the star's heat and radiation, the crew was in for a ride a bit bumpier than earlier expected. On top of that, Keselowsky slapped his commbadge, "Kes to Bridge. I am getting a warning indicator down here. 'Proximity Alert'," he read off, "'Omega Radiation Exposure Possible at 1PPB'."
=^="We're getting the same thing up here,'=^= came Caradan's voice. =^="Lieutenant Mindo, please confirm this alert."
"Confirmed, Captain," Mindo said. "We might want to shift our course a little. This amount of radiation is no big deal with shields, but with them down it can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. Either way, we have about two minutes until we either raise shields, fly, or fry." Mindo adjusted as the ship shook again. "And I shouldn't have to remind you that with gravity down this low our response time down here may take a couple more seconds."
=^="This is certainly within safety protocols. Looks like the doctor will have plenty of hyposprays to administer. Leave the shields down,"=^= her voice seemed to have been directed to those on the Bridge, =^="We need to do this precisely as the transport did."=^=
"Understood, Captain," said Mindo. "We'll keep everything together."
Mindo turned to Keselowsky. "Right Ensign?" the Chief Engineer said.
Keselowsky worked feverishly at the controls to maintain the Tornado's footprint whilst simultaneously keeping track of the Warp Core's coolant levels. "Yeah. Together. That is how we keep things."
=/\= Mindo to bridge. We have maximum polarization. We're clear. =/\=
To a great sigh of relief, the Tornado passed over the flare by nearly a thousand kilometers. Still, the ship would have felt effects from the heat and particle index had Engineering not been on top of their game.
The Tornado continued to speed around the stars. Its orbit started to take them further away. At least the turbulence of a low orbit and the chaos of tidal forces of the two stars were wreaking less havoc on the ship and crew.
"Chief Ran, to bridge. I am picking up an ion trail matching the prison ship on extreme long range scans. I am running it through the computer now for verification."
“Make it quick Chief Ran,” said Caradan. “We need to know for certain if we should launch pursuit or wait longer.”
“Understood,” Caradan stood from the Captain’s chair. “Mindo, return the ship to normal parameters."
=/\= Gladly. =/\= said Mindo over the comm.
"Lieutenant Rrareth plot a course and engage the second Mindo gives the All Clear.”
"Aye," Ziara responded, grinning as they spotted their prey.
The ship began to right itself. Gravity came back to normal at a quick but adjustable pace.
Mindo's voice came over the comm again after a few seconds. =/\= We've got regular gravity. Dampeners are stable and back to normal. Thanks for flying Mindo Spaceways. =/\=
“Remind me to tip you later Lieutenant,” Caradan responded. “Lieutenant Deloria, is there anything on sensors other than this ion trail?” Caradan asked. The last thing she wanted to do was Warp into an ambush. She wanted to be careful but she did not want to seem overly cautious or afraid.
TAG Meera (Still nothing)
TAG Maddox (something along the lines of “all operations are normal again”.)
"That's it Lieutenant," Caradan said as she stepped up closer to Ziara at the helm. "Hit it."
Ziara's tail flicked to the side as the ship leaped forward. Ziara twisted the Tornado around, matching their vectors and putting the Tornado in a position to chase or attack them at Caradan's discretion.
Zipping through space again and away from the binary star system, the Tornado followed Ran’s guidance of the fading ion trail. Though faint, it was still easily followed. Those on the Bridge waited and those in Engineering were ready to hold the ship together in case a fire-fight ensued. All ears were waiting for word from Security, Tactical, Astrometrics, anything from anyone, from any place.
This waiting and the tension she both felt and sensed from the other took Caradan back to her ENVE training. The mission came first. Everything else was secondary. If the mission was not accomplished, she would probably never be in command again. If accomplishing the mission meant sacrificing someone on the crew, well she was certain Shaqdac would find a way to use that against her. Caradan understood suddenly the need for deities. She refused to be one herself as many Changelings still looked upon themselves as Gods among the Vorta and the Jem-Hadar. So why should anyone be looked on in a similar light and why should anyone look up to such a being thus. But suddenly, Caradan wanted someone out there to look over her, to make sure she would not fail in this endeavor.
For the moment, she could not seek any guidance into anything religious. There was a ship out there that they needed to find and the Tornado was on the right path. There was no telling how long the chase would take, but the ship and crew had to be ready for anything. First of all though, the office in command needed to be ready. For the moment, that officer was Caradan.