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A Wall in Space

Posted on Thu Jan 26th, 2023 @ 8:44am by Captain Isaac Rhodes & Lieutenant Arlen Caldor & Commander Temperance Zachary & Lieutenant Commander Axod Qo & Lieutenant Commander T'Laris & Lieutenant Cleo "CJ" Hanks & Lieutenant L'Mess

Mission: Episode 1.01 - “Lost and Found”
Location: Bridge, USS Thejal
Timeline: Day 01, 0952 hours

Rhodes watched silently through the forward viewport. Ahead of them, the shimmering wall of energy pulsed and flickered across space. He had encountered forcefields and other barriers before, of course, but never of this size or magnitude. Questions as to where it had come from, who had made it, or what its purpose was filled his thoughts. However, he knew that simply staring at the thing was not going to yield them any answers.

“What are we looking at, commander,” he asked, turning to the Thejal’s chief science officer.

The vulcan's eyes darted around the screen in front of her. She almost lamented, if she had been capable of such a thing, the absence of the dedicated sensor viewport that she had on her previous assignment. The Thejal was a newer ship, and as such, was equipped with newer technology. But it was not the change in technology that had the woman perplexed. "Most curious, Captain," T'Laris replied, not turning away from her data. "The phenomenon we are observing simply appears to be a large forcefield of unknown origin."

“Any indications as to what might be inside,” Rhodes asked.

T'Laris turned away from the science console to face the center of the bridge, her long ponytail swinging back and forth. "Nothing, Captain. Or rather I should specify that it is not the lack of indication that I find puzzling, but rather that the sensors tell us that there is nothing inside. No energy. No matter. No cosmic background radiation. It is most intriguing."

L'Mess frowned as her fingers danced over the Tactical console. Science had never been one of her strong points, but she knew enough to be able to reading a blank screen. "I can confirm, Captain." The somewhat raspy voice of the Caitian followed the Vulcan. "My sensors are just coming back... blank."

Curious, indeed, Rhodes thought to himself, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. Despite the confusion at what they were seeing through the viewport and across their screens, he could tell that his staff was intrigued by the mystery before them. It was an opportunity for exploration, maybe even a first contact, which is why so many of them were out here in the first place. And yet, at the same time, he was also aware the reason they were here specifically at this time and place was to find the crew of the Richelieu. Any time spent investigating this curiosity was time taken away from their search.

With the situation in Sickbay stable, Doctor Qo made his way to the Bridge so that he could get a firsthand account of the ship’s situation and better prepare his department. As the lift deposited him on the Bridge, he took a quick moment to look around before crossing to where the Captain was. He stop midway and looked at the viewer to see what the Captain was looking at. “What in the Depths of Gethra happened?” He asked.

“Good question, doctor,” Rhodes replied, glancing at the new arrival before returning his attention to the forward viewport, “So far as we can tell, some sort of energized barrier. Beyond that, we can’t seem to get any reading…”

“And we went through this barrier?” Qo asked, clearly aghast at the idea.

Rhodes shook his head from side to side. "Not at all, doctor," he said, reassuringly, "We simply detected unusual energy readings during our search of the last grid-section. Lieutenant Hanks altered our course to investigate, and this is what we found." That much was true, so far as Rhodes knew, but given the potential for strange anomalies in this region, he supposed they couldn't entirely rule out the possibility...yet. However, what intrigued him more about Qo's question was that it made him wonder whether perhaps the Richelieu had encountered the barrier. Could they have passed through, knowingly or otherwise?

Qo let out a sigh of relief. At least they hadn't passed into some parallel universe or different layer of space.

“Mister Caldor,” Rhodes said, addressing his communications officer, “Are you getting anything?”

From his position to one side of the bridge, Caldor had been cycling through the known frequencies. He was looking for any signs of activity that might have given them an idea as to who (or what) was beyond the barrier. But, so far, this effort had yielded little result. At the sound of his name, he turned away from his workstation and toward the center of the room. "Nothing, sir," he replied, "No comm traffic, no transponders, no signals of any kind."

By this point, Rhodes was not surprised by the report. If they weren't getting any sensor readings from the other side, then it stood to reason they wouldn't have been getting any communication signals, either. The question was...was that because the field was causing interference or because there weren't any to be found?

Temp remained silent, observing, contemplating. Finally, turning to T'Laris, she tilted her head to one side slightly. "Can we try sending a probe through the barrier?" she queried. "It might be enough to pick up anything on the other side and transmit back to us?"

"A probe would help us narrow down the possibilities," the Vulcan woman replied. She considered the situation a moment. "If nothing else, the probe will tell us if the lack of sensor readings are due to interference, or if they due to an actual lack of anything to read."

Rhodes rubbed his chin thoughtfully. It was a good idea, one that presented minimal risk while still offering them a chance to find out what was on the other side. He looked over at his first officer and, seeing they were in agreement, turned back to T’Laris. “Alright,” he said, “let’s prep a probe, commander. Launch when ready.”

"Aye, Captain." The vulcan turned back to her console and tapped on the panel the commands to ready a probe. The crews in the torpedo rooms reacted quickly, preparing the requested probe and loading it into the launcher. It only took a few moments before the crew reported back ready. "Launching the probe now, Captain."

Through the forward viewport a quick glimpse of the probe could be seen as it sped away from the ship, accelerated to high sublight speeds by the power of the torpedo launcher. T'Laris reported the probe's telemetry as it approached, counting down the distance to the barrier. "Fifteen kilometers until reaching the barrier. Thirteen. Eleven. Nine. Seven. Five. Three. One kilometer. Probe will make contact in three. Two. One." T'Laris grew silent.

Temperance's own hands tightened on the arm rests of the chair she occupied. She cast a quick glance at Captain Rhodes then fixed her attention firmly on the viewer in front of them again.

The science officer shook her head before turning to face her commanding officer. Frustrated thoughts flowed through her mind as she dealt with feelings of disappointment. Of course, she let none of this show to the others on the bridge. "I have lost contact with the probe. I am not detecting any evidence of debris. Nor am I reading a signal from the probe's transponder. The ion trail leads directly to the edge of the barrier, but then, nothing." She turned back around. "It is most puzzling."

Rhodes listened, but did not say anything. It was clear, by this point, something more was happening here. They just didn’t know what it was…yet.

Silently, he rose from his seat and started to walk forward. When he reached the edge of the navigation console, he paused, his eyes peering out towards the barrier. A moment passed, then he turned around to face the others.

“So,” he said, “Our scans have not been able to penetrate the barrier. We’ve not been able to detect any signals coming from the other side. And our probe, assuming that it made it through, has disappeared from readouts. Any other ideas?”

CJ worked quietly at Helm, attempting to analyze what little data was provided. "I would be hesitant to suggest taking a shuttle through the barrier. The energy that was dissipated with the probe is concerning to me. However, would modulation of the shields and structural integrity force allow us to transit the ship through? With an optimum plotted angle we could narrow down the places that will take the most energy input."

“Take the ship through!?” Qo couldn’t believe it. “Don’t you think we ought to have some more information about this barrier before we punch our way through? What if it’s some kind of protection grid for a species who doesn’t want to be bothered?”

"Our sensors aren't able to read anything about the barrier," T'Laris reminded the doctor. "Our options to learn more about this barrier are limited."

The conversation continued, with people offering their thoughts and perspectives. Some, like Hanks and T’Laris, seemed to think there might be an opportunity, if not to discover the fate of the Richelieu, then to at least learn more about the strange phenomenon before them. Others seemed to agree with Qo that the risk might be too great. Slowly, heads began to turn, waiting to see how their captain would weigh in.

“We will take the ship through,” Rhodes said, bringing an end to the discussion. He started walking back towards the center chair, and as he did so, he began to issue orders. “L’Mess, raise shields and remodulate them to align with the barrier’s output. Hanks, T’Laris, plot a course so as to minimize our contact with the field.”

"Lt. T'Laris, if you can find a thinner section send the coordinates to my station please," CJ responded.

"Information is limited," T'Laris responded. "But I will attempt to plot a course based on the probe's telemetry. I cannot be certain that this course is the most optimal without an extensive study. However, we do not have that many probes."

The thought of taking the whole ship through into a situation they knew nothing about did not entirely fill her with confidence, but Temperance remained silent.

Satisfied that his instructions were being carried out, Rhodes reached over and pressed a button on the control panel to his left. “All hands, this is the captain,” he said, his voice echoing throughout the ship, “Secure your stations and brace for impact.”

"Captain, all stations are reporting ready to go," Temperance replied, her voice calmer than the turmoil racing through her mind.

“Thank you, Number One,” Rhodes said. He took one last look at the view through the forward window, then turned to address his navigator. “Ahead, one-quarter…”


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