"Starfleet, come in! Emergency! We've got catastrophic systems failure, equipment down across the board, we need help! Please respo -- !"
Captain David Gold switched off the audio recording and glanced around the observation lounge. As always, Sonya Gomez admired his ability to stay calm at a time like this.
But then, he had heard the distress call already, as had Sonya, his first officer, and second officer Lt. Commander Kieran Duffy. Around the table, the rest of the S.C.E. team on the U.S.S. da Vinci looked more startled at the urgent cry for help.
Gold turned his blue eyes on Sonya. She nodded, and began filling in the gaps.
She tugged absently at her shirt cuffs and looked around the table at her team. "Okay, first off, a bit about the planet." She pressed a control on the console in front of her, and an image of a planet appeared on the viewscreen. "We're looking at BorSitu Minor -- anybody heard of it?" No one responded. "Right, that's not surprising. It's got only the one outpost on it. But BorSitu Minor does have something worthwhile -- dilithium, some of the richest deposits ever found. The outpost is geared toward mining operations, and tends to rotate staff every year or two. Most of the work is automated, so the staff is pretty small."
"How small?" asked Dr. Lense from the other side of the table, though Sonya noticed the doctor didn't make eye contact with anyone as she spoke.
"Less than a dozen, according to their latest records."
Lense nodded. "We should be able to handle any casualties, then, but I'd like to know if there's a ship with a bigger sickbay nearby that we can call on just in case."
"Both the Fearless and the Sugihara are in the area," Gold said. "I'll have McAllan contact them."
"Thank you," Lense said quietly.
Gomez went on. "The biggest issue with BorSitu Minor is the atmosphere. It's highly ionized, and the charge blocks normal transporters, communicators, and sensors. In addition, it has a high acid content -- it's dangerously corrosive. The outpost has a transporter pad, heavily shielded and with extra signal boosters. They've even got a matter/antimatter plant on-site for power, to give them enough to cut through and to shield against that atmosphere. But, based on that distress signal, the transporter probably isn't working, so the away team will have to take a shuttlecraft down there. And when they get there, the shield may be down as well."
"In which case," Kieran said, "we'll have to rig up a portable shield generator. The team can activate it as they open the shuttle door, and use it to move around."
"It'll have to be quick," Fabian Stevens said from his seat next to Duffy. "Those portables only last about an hour or so."
From her modified chair at the far end of the table, P8 Blue said, "For an outpost of that size, an hour will be enough."
Sonya smiled. "Glad to hear you say that, Pattie, because you're on the away team, along with Corsi and Soloman. From you, I want a structural analysis, and any first guesses as to what happened." Turning to the short Bynar, she said, "Soloman, check the computer files and make sure the systems are repairable." Finally, she gazed upon the tall human security chief sitting next to Lense. "Corsi, assess the safety level -- I need to know if we can all go in, and if we need security with us." All three nodded. "Meantime, Fabian, I want you to prepare possible attack scenarios for us -- "
Fabian frowned. "We're going to attack the outpost?"
"No, but somebody may have. I want to know who could have done it from orbit, and how. We'll compare those to Pattie's assessment and see if we get a match." She glanced at Gold, who nodded. "Okay, that's it. Let's get to work."
The meeting over, people began rising from their seats. Corsi was the first to her feet and out the door, as usual. She seemed eager to prepare, and Sonya repressed a smile. Corsi was always enthusiastic about security, and she was probably thrilled to be playing a major part in the first portion of this expedition. Gold was out next, back to the bridge and the business of running the da Vinci -- including having the other two ships notified that they may be needed for medical backup. Soloman also wandered out, chatting with Bart Faulwell and Fabian. Carol Abramowitz and Pattie were right behind them -- Sonya was glad to see that the two roommates were on speaking terms again, after a tiff they'd had over Carol's musical choices -- as was Dr. Lense.
That left Kieran and Sonya alone in the observation lounge.
"Gee," Kieran said, "you and I not on the away team on the day we were supposed to have lunch. Coincidence?"
Sonya stood up and put on her official face. "Commander Duffy, I am shocked -- shocked -- that you would accuse me of putting personal preference before duty." Then she broke into a smile. "Besides, those three really are the best ones to go on the team -- especially Pattie, with her tough hide, in case there are problems with the atmosphere."
"Fair enough," Kieran said, with a smile of his own. "Shall we go to the mess hall, the mess hall, or maybe the mess hall?"
"Actually, I was thinking my quarters," Sonya said.
Kieran's smile widened.
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