A Little Too Lonely
Location: USS Tornado
Aside from the usual hum of the ship and the regular beeps from the computer terminals, the Bridge was utterly quiet. Only Ensign Hamilton at the Helm gave any form of vocal break to the silence with his regular updates of decreasing distance between the Tornado and the fourth planet. Lieutenant Mindo was ready with an Engineering firestorm should the defense satellites make any move. Higgins and Erickson maintained vigilance over scans of the surrounding space, the planet ahead, and the nearby moon. Caradan and her second officer Elena Reis kept their eyes glued to the viewscreen of the planet growing in size and the tactical overlay of the area.
Caradan realized she was asking at irregular intervals and with growing frequency, but “Anything yet Higgins?”
"No Ma'am. No change since you asked me..." Higgins replies, pausing a moment to check the chronometer on his display. "7 and a half minutes ago. Got empty space, shit image quality on the surface, and a bunch of inactive or dead sats." He states, sighing. He understood the nervousness going on. Things were tense, and honestly, no one really knew what to expect from all of this.
“Well keep at it Higgins,” said Caradan.
"Still no change in the satellites," said Mindo. "Continuing scans."
“Perhaps they truly are inactive,” said Caradan to no one in particular.
Sitting at the back of the Bridge, Ixelom snorted loudly. "And perhaps the Enterprise itself is going to sail in and back us up. If we're dreaming of fantasy, let's dream big!"
Caradan looked back to the counselor, but did not have any words for her. It was in that moment that Caradan had an inkling of realization as to why people were sometimes religious, because she was hoping, in fact Caradan found herself nearly praying for outside assistance to keep these defense satellites benign. Who would provide that outside assistance though? Caradan decided to dwell on that later. FOr now, hoping that the satellites truly were inactive was the best she could do.
As the ship got closer, Higgins was finally able to start getting viable field imagery. "Okay, doing some low-level sweeps... I've got a bunch of varied lifeforms. Mostly rudimentary, as expected of a barely M-class. Prilim scans show mostly invertebrates, with a few potential vertebrates starting their evolutionary track according to the system... Wait, got something. Klingon lifesign, steppe region at 37 degrees 14 minutes geological North, 89 degrees, 20 minutes geological West." He reported, working on getting a better scan of that locale.
“How many Klingons,” Caradan asked but kept her eyes on the viewscreen. “Are there any ships on the ground? Any organization? Weapons?” She silenced herself knowing she was beginning to ask too much of Higgins.
Erickson stepped in. "I'm picking up a shuttle in the surface, partially covered near a hill. Engines are cold. No signs of other ships in the area. Small hand weapons and a partially completed anti-fighter turret. Also what looks like a bunker of some kind. I'll need boots on the ground to confirm structure and stability."
"You may be getting that pretty soon, Scott."
From behind, Mindo made a noise that sounded something like "Whoop!" And just then his computer began beeping. Mindo sprang into action. "Sir, one of the satellites just came online. The one closest to us. The compatibility program is complete. Awaiting orders."
"Maintain Yellow Alert. Standby on shields," Caradan barked out. "Whoever it is down there, they may just be curious as to what and who we are." She knew the ship would be just fine against just one defense satellite. Still, if there was to be any hostility, she would rather not make the first move.
"Higgins," Caradan involuntarily showed a little impatience, "how many Klingon lifesigns are you reading?"
"Single lifesign Ma'am. Female." Higgins reports actually getting enough clarity on his systems to give that much. "Still watching the space around us, just in case."
"A single female Klingon," Caradan said to herself trying to understand the situation. So far, this matched the description of who the Klingon Empire was looking for. "Counselor," Caradan turned back to Ixelom. "What would make someone, a Klingon, and a female at that, go into a voluntary isolation such as this? There is not enough of a power grid to power these satellites and she is not trying very hard to hide."
Ixelom was silent for a moment as she looked at the viewscreen, her large nostrils flaring.
"A Klingon fugitive is a contradiction," she said slowly. "A fugitive wants to run, to escape and to find safety, but Klingons find it very hard to run away, even when pitted against impossible odds. Military units and groups of warriors can flee from battle because they're trained to, but it's a lot less likely for a single Klingon to do so. They're much more likely to only run until they can find solid ground, fortify it, and meet their pursuer head on."
"So maybe the question is, where's the pursuer?" said Mindo.
“That would be us,” answered Caradan immediately. “We are currently working for the Klingon Empire whilst they are in an armed conflict. “Her pursuer would then be the Empire and, thus, us.” Caradan sighed in irritation. “I long for the days when we can just explore again.” She swiped at her commbadge. “Commander Shaqdac to the Bridge,” she said in something of a regrettable tone.
"On my way" A short reply came back to Caradan request.
Caradan was quick to step out of the man’s way and allow him to assume his rightful chair. She did not even formally hand command of the Bridge over to him. She just launched into her report. “Sir, we have arrived at the fourth planet containing only one lifesign; a Klingon female. There is a system of defense satellites about the planet but they are inactive. Only one has powered up but it seems to be scanning us as though trying to ascertain who and what we are. We maintain constant scans of the area. There seems to be no additional ships or unwanted guests in the system.”
He looked at the screen where the planet was in view and the red target blimps had the satelites at lock 'Why the overkill on defends systems?' he thought as Aki looked at Caradan "Good work Lieutenant" Swalloning his pride for a second, he noticed in his inspection round that morale was low and this was not going to be improved if he keeps boosting the frustration up between himself and his xo "Any objections towards getting that away team down there?"
Caradan took nearly a second too long to respond as she was nearly in shock by the compliment. “No sir. We will have to use shuttles or wait a few hours before we can attempt a transport.” She figured taking the initiative would be the best move. “I’ll assemble my team right away and head down.”
“Erickson,” Caradan wasted no time, “You wanted boots on the ground? You’re with me. Drop by Security and inform Lieutenant Deloria she is going down too. We will need a security team. Ensign Vejeem, this Klingon may have been isolated for a while and she’s has been imprisoned for quite some time. She may need some kind words. Lieutenant Mindo, we may need someone to see about the machinery down there. Gather a team, some of your newcomers. We meet in the Shuttle Bay in 10 minutes. Hamilton, prep the shuttle. Let’s get this done.”
A chorus of "Aye, sir" and "Aye, ma'am" cluttered the bridge for a moment, then people began preparations.
Sitting back in his chair, he smiled as the ship was operating as it should. Though those satelites were not something he was fan of. "Good luck down there, keep me up to date" Aki spoke.