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[2380] The Ashby Files: The USS Leyte Dossier

Stardate 57279.4
November 20, 2380
0800 HRS

[Ens. Amanda Ashby | Conference Room | Deck 01 | USS Aurora]

’Resident Psychiatrist’s log, Stardate 57279.47. After only four days, the USS Aurora has been recalled from her planetary survey mission on Acheron III. With the ship landed on the surface and the majority of the crew dispatched to various different survey teams however, it will take at least a couple of hours for them to disassemble their heavy equipment and make their way back. In the meantime, the senior officers who are still aboard as part of the skeleton crew are ordered to report to the conference room for a briefing.

Interestingly enough, Captain Anders has asked for my presence as well. As a psychiatrist integrated into the Medical Department, Doctor Taylor normally represents my interests during staff meetings in his capacity as the ship’s Chief Medical Officer. In this particular case, we are both required to attend.’

Ensign Amanda Ashby took a sip from her tea and leaned back in her chair –or rather, the chair of the currently absent Chief Security Officer, Lieutenant Commander Bryce Walker- while she patiently waited for the briefing to start. While it was supposed to have started ten minutes ago, the weather conditions had rapidly deteriorated since the Aurora issued her initial recall order to the survey teams earlier in the morning; as a result, the Nova-class Light Research Cruiser now experienced technical difficulties in establishing contact with the far weaker communications transceivers of her three away teams.

For a brief moment Amanda turned her blue-eyed attention to the windows of the conference room, which were being barraged by such heavy rainfall that their view over the clearing in the temperate rainforest was greatly obscured. It subconsciously made the blonde Counselor cradle the cup of tea with both hands, grateful that she wasn’t outside in that kind of foul weather. Just as she was about to take another sip, the doors of the conference room opened with their signature hydraulic hiss and the Chief Operations Officer, Lieutenant Junior Grade Hailey Bennion, walked in.

”I’ve boosted power to our communications transceiver and realigned our orbital transceiver probe, ma’am. We should be able to establish contact now.” It was standard procedure during planetary survey missions, at least from what Amanda observed aboard the USS Aurora, for an orbital transceiver probe to be launched before the ship would initiate her landing sequence. If the ship would lose contact with Starfleet Command for whatever reason, incoming messages were automatically encrypted and stored in the probe until it could re-establish contact with its mother ship and upload the stored data for decryption; it prevented the loss of potentially important communiqués and, in a dark worst case scenario, the transceiver probe would also serve to mark a possible crash site for rescue operations. While the young Canadian Lieutenant Junior Grade spoke, Amanda turned her chair around to face the table and prepared herself for the meeting to finally begin.

Captain Rebecca Anders pressed a button on the wall console in response to the Chief Operations Officer and, with a friendly nod towards Lieutenant Junior Grade Bennion as the young woman sat down, spoke up. Aurora to Banting, Fleming and Hopkins, what’s your status?” For a couple of tense seconds nothing happened but, right as Captain Anders was about to turn around again to face the Chief Operations Officer, the brown-furred Caitian face of Commander Took appeared on the screen. ”Took here, reading you loud and clear Captain. We’re currently still in the process of disassembling our diving equipment, but we estimate that we’ll link up with you in two hours.” While the Caitian-accented voice of the Executive Officer filled the room, Lieutenant Amber Beale also appeared on the screen, followed shortly after by Lieutenant Commander Bryce Walker. ”This is Beale, we’re en-route aboard the Hopkins ma’am, approximately fifteen minutes out.” Contrary to the professional voice of the Executive Officer and the genuinely friendly voice of the Chief Science Officer, the voice of Lieutenant Commander Bryce Walker was raucous and somehow only seemed to further accentuate his burly appearance. ”Walker. Our ETA is ten minutes, Captain.”

As Captain Anders spoke up, she began to walk away from the wall panel and towards her chair at the head of the table. ”Understood, we’ll be awaiting your arrival. In the meantime...” Instead of sitting down in her chair, which would have left the blonde Captain with her back towards the three senior officers displayed on the wall panel, the USS Aurora’s Commanding Officer pressed a button on the table and took up position right next to Amanda’s chair. ”This is the USS Leyte, and she’s the reason for our rushed departure.” A holographic representation of a Defiant-class Destroyer appeared above the table. ”The Leyte was scheduled to arrive at Starbase 39 three days ago, but she never did. Since we are the ship closest to her last known position, Starfleet Command wants us to head there at best speed and investigate what happened.” The Captain took a step towards the table and pressed another button, replacing the holographic image of the USS Leyte with a map of the Sector. When she took a step back again and took up position next to her chair, Amanda noticed that the Captain’s voice had gotten just slightly darker as she spoke up again. ”This is the USS Leyte’s last known position, just outside the Class-2 Cocytus Nebula four light years from here. However, this contact is three weeks old and originated just before they entered the nebula. It might go without saying that Class-2 nebulae have a highly disruptive effect on sensors so, while there could very well be an innocent reason behind the Leyte’s delay, Starfleet Command would like us to go in after them and retrace their steps. The Defiant-class Destroyer is a ship with limited provisions, and if they somehow ended up stranded inside the Cocytus Nebula they will need our help.” Pausing for just a moment to take a sip of water, Captain Anders looked at the senior officers before continuing with her normal tone of voice. ”I would like you all to go with this worst-case scenario and plan accordingly. Even at best speed it will take us a little over two days to reach the Nebula, which gives us plenty of time to brainstorm amongst ourselves and prepare the Aurora. You have forty-eight hours, people.” With that, Amanda noticed how Captain Anders turned towards her. ”Ensign Ashby, go with the assumption that the Leyte’s crew has been stranded somewhere in the Cocytus Nebula for three weeks with no way out and imagine the effect it could have on their psyche. If we do find her adrift in there, I want to know precisely what to expect.”

Amanda momentarily looked at the Captain and found herself, quite honestly, a little taken aback by the scenario described by the older blonde woman. The blonde Ensign knew that morale aboard the Defiant-class would be at an all-time low even in the best case scenario, and if the Aurora was following the Leyte into the Cocytus Nebula Amanda realized that she’d also have to keep a close eye on the morale and mental welfare of her own crew; people would surely start feeling tense and uncomfortable real fast. With all those thoughts going through her head and, knowing that her report would likely be big, the Martian Counselor presented the Captain with a curt nod. ”Yes ma’am, you’ll have my report as soon as possible.”

Re: [2380] The Ashby Files: The USS Leyte Dossier

Reply #1
Stardate 57284.31
November 22, 2380
0615 HRS

[Ens. Amanda Ashby | Conference Room | Deck 01 | USS Aurora]

’Resident Psychiatrist’s log, supplemental. The USS Aurora has arrived at the last known location of the missing USS Leyte quite a bit ahead of schedule. Captain Anders ordered the ship to proceed into the Cocytus Nebula and, as we venture into the unknown, the senior staff has been roused and requested to convene in the conference room. Just like before, my presence is requested as well.

I can only hope that my psychological evaluation of the USS Leyte’s Command Staff will prove to be sufficient and accurate.’

From where she was sitting, in the chair of Lieutenant Junior Grade Brad Marshall –the Chief Engineer- whom had kindly vacated his seat to her in the absence of any available chairs, Ensign Amanda Ashby quietly listened how Captain Rebecca Anders opened the staff meeting by wishing them all a good morning. It definitely was an early morning and, as Amanda cradled her hands around the warm cup of coffee –her first cup of the day- her blue eyes briefly turned to the windows of the conference room. She could see how the fuscia-coloured nebula swirled around the USS Aurora, apparently several hours before it had been actually supposed to do so and, as she brought her coffee cup up to her lips to take a sip from the warm liquid, the Martian Counselor warily turned her attention back to the Captain.

”Lieutenant Beale, Ensign Hunt,” As the blonde-haired Captain spoke up, she turned her attention towards the Chief Science Officer and the Chief CONN Officer. ”We were not supposed to reach the Cocytus Nebula for another ten hours, and yet we almost literally stumbled into it this morning at a set of coordinates where it wasn’t supposed to be.” The Commanding Officer raised her eyebrows; an unspoken request for the two female officers to come up with a possible explanation. Ensign Lucy Hunt, the red-haired Chief CONN Officer, was the first to speak up with her signature Australian accent. ”Captain, when we departed Acheron III we plotted a direct course to the USS Leyte’s last known coordinates, and our flight plan was double-checked by the Astrometrics Lab while en-route. I’ll have to look over the navigational logs, but when our shift ended last night we were still on course. It’s highly unlikely that this was caused by a navigational error.”

The Chief Science Officer nodded in response and, after a sip of coffee, Lieutenant Amber Beale also spoke up. ”I’ll have the Astrometrics Lab look into this, Captain.” As the British woman spoke up, she turned her attention to the Chief Operations Officer who was sitting on the opposite end of the table. ”Could it be a glitch in our navigational sensors?” It did sound like a good theory to Amanda; while it definitely wasn’t her field of study, a glitch in the navigational sensors could explain why they stumbled onto the Cocytus Nebula at warp 7 earlier that morning. However, Lieutenant Junoir Grade Hailey Bennion shook her head in response. ”It could be a possibility, but that would be highly unlikely. There’s no way of checking that right now though, our sensors barely work inside this nebula as it is so there’s nothing to properly recalibrate them with.”

Amanda took another sip from her coffee and quietly listened how Captain Anders spoke up once more with a curt nod. ”Very well. Lieutenant Bennion, please work on this with Ensign Hunt. If we do end up in need of what little sensor capacity we have at the moment, I’d prefer that the readings are accurate. Lieutenant Beale,” The Martian Counselor watched how their Commanding Officer turned her green-eyed attention towards the Chief Science Officer once more. ”See what the Astrometrics Lab can do to assist.” There was a short pause before the USS Aurora’s Commanding Officer turned her attention directly towards Amanda. ”Ensign Ashby, I’ve read the psychological assessment you sent me yesterday and I concur. Please go ahead and brief us.”

Taking one more quick sip of her coffee before placing the cup down on the table, Amanda presented Captain Anders with a polite nod before speaking up. ”Yes ma’am. The current Commanding Officer of the USS Leyte is Captain Duncan Parker.” As she spoke, Amanda pressed a button on the table and allowed the holographic image of Captain Parker’s personnel file to be displayed above the table. ”He’s a decorated veteran of  the Dominion War who has served in some of the most hotly contested theatres in the Quadrant. According to Starfleet records, Captain Parker is known as a confident and somewhat aggressive leader; he won’t run away from a fight, and he is not afraid to bend the rules to ensure the wellbeing of his crew. The latter has made him a popular Commanding Officer amongst the rank-and-file.” While it wasn’t written down in any official records, anyone who could read between the lines knew that Captain Parker would have been a Commodore by now if it wasn’t for his tendency to bend the rules to his advantage. It definitely made him popular with his crew, but the amount of informal reprimands and side-notes by Flag Officers quite clearly showed that the Admiralty wasn’t as equally excited about the Captain. ”His Executive Officer is Commander Ellyson Forrest.” A second holographic image appeared, now one of a black-haired Starfleet Officer in her early 40s. ”Commander Forrest has been Captain Parker’s Executive Officer throughout the Dominion War and, if you’ll allow me the metaphor, she’s definitely the yin to his yang. They balance each other out, and the two of them make for an amazing team.” Not unlike Captain Anders and Commander Took, but Amanda knew such a compliment would only be regarded as brown-nosing. So, instead of voicing her thoughts, she continued by allowing the holographic images of several more officers to appear. ”The same applies to the rest of Captain Parker’s senior staff. Most of them have served under him since the Dominion War and those who haven’t, mainly the Lieutenant Junior Grades and the Ensigns who didn’t serve yet during the Dominion War, are likely to follow those who have. After all, Captain Parker is known for his loyalty to his crew and his ability to deliver even under serious pressure, so the crew won’t let him down. A very long story short, my assessment is that, aboard a ship as small as the USS Leyte, the senior staff can maintain morale no matter what.

When the Captain presented Amanda with a nod and a ”Thank you, Ensign Ashby. Please keep working with Lieutenant Taylor and the Medical Department to ensure the best possible mental healthcare once we find the USS Leyte. Her crew has likely been through a lot these last weeks.”, the Martian Counselor nodded in unison along with Lieutenant Owen Taylor, the Chief Medical Officer. To say that the USS Leyte’s crew had ‘been through a lot’ was probably somewhat of an understatement, and as Amanda listened to Captain Anders and the burly Lieutenant Commander Walker as they discussed matters of Security and a potential plan of approach for when they would eventually board the Defiant-class, the blonde-haired Ensign knew that she wasn’t the only one who kept that in mind...

Re: [2380] The Ashby Files: The USS Leyte Dossier

Reply #2
Stardate 57289.6
November 24, 2380
0845 HRS

Time inside Cocytus Nebula: 50 HRS

[Ens. Amanda Ashby | Psychiatrist’s Office | Deck 02 | USS Aurora]

’Resident Psychiatrist’s log, supplemental. It has been a little over fifty hours since the USS Aurora entered the Cocytus Nebula, but we have yet to find the missing USS Leyte. I am starting to notice signs of anxiety and frustration amongst the crew, which I am inclined to attribute to our lack of progress thus far, but I see absolutely no cause for concern as ship-wide morale remains good and everyone seems utterly dedicated to the task at hand.

In the meantime, I continue to monitor the mental wellbeing of our crew and once again stressed the point that I am available if anyone needs my help. Our Executive Officer, Commander Took, has taken me up on that and scheduled an appointment at the earliest possible convenience.’

Commander Took, the brown-furred Caitian Executive Officer, was sitting in one of the two available chairs at the business end of Amanda’s desk. As he was sitting there, cradling a mug of warm buttermilk in both hands, the blonde-haired Ensign couldn’t help but notice how worn-out he looked. ”I didn’t see you at sports night yesterday, Commander.” The tone of Amanda’s Martian-accented voice matched the friendly smile on her face, and she took a sip from her tea while her blue eyes gazed at the Commander.

As with many other ships which lacked a Holodeck, the crew of the USS Aurora often found themselves in need of improvisation when it came to matters of entertainment. Lieutenant Junior Grade Hailey Bennion had installed an entertainment system in the Officer’s Mess and, at set evenings in the week, many of the off-duty officers would gather to watch movies or sports games; gridiron football had become quite popular these last couple of weeks, along with the friendly impromptu betting pool for replicator rations that somehow came along with it. Commander Took always attended these sports nights and while he never partook in any betting, following the example of Captain Anders and most of the higher-ranking Senior Staff, his unrelenting enthusiasm for gridiron football made him a much appreciated and welcome attendee. That, and his advice had allowed one of the junior officers from the Engineering Department, a certain Ensign Swan, to make bank on the betting pool three weeks prior. To see the Commander miss out on sports night was uncommon and, without anything better to do, enough to draw Amanda’s curiosity.

The Commander just shrugged in reply and took a sip from his drink before turning his amber-eyed attention directly onto her. To anyone who didn’t knew Commander Took any better, including Amanda herself during her first weeks aboard the USS Aurora , his intense gaze could often be somewhat unnerving or even intimidating. There was certainly an irony there, given how the Executive Officer was one of the most sincere Starfleet officers Amanda had met thus far. ”Yeah, I decided to turn in for the night a little early.” Prompted by the blonde-haired Psychiatrist’s raised eyebrows and mildly surprised ”Oh?”, the brown-furred Caitian took another sip from his buttermilk before clarifying his answer. ”I was just tired, Doctor. It is nothing to be concerned about, I just haven’t been sleeping well since we entered the Cocytus Nebula.”

It made sense that the Commander wouldn’t sleep well and Amanda just nodded in understanding. ”Understandable, we can all feel the strain of our task at hand.” As she spoke, the blonde-haired Martian noticed that the Executive Officer grit his teeth; as if he was annoyed by something. ”It would keep anyone awake at night, and I can only imagine that it’s even worse for you and Captain Anders.” A sympathetic smile began to adorn Amanda’s face as she spoke, but Commander Took shook his head and there was a hint of annoyance in his voice when he answered.

”You don’t understand, otherwise you wouldn’t be wasting time watching gridiron football while the USS Leyte is still out there somewhere.” It was a snarky kind of remark which Amanda never expected from Commander Took and, for a brief moment, she considered to explain why sports night was important; many of the officers, not only those who weren’t assigned to Bridge duty but also those who were relieved at the end of their shift, couldn’t do anything beyond their regular duties until the USS Leyte was found, and it was important to provide them with entertainment to serve as both a distraction and as an emotional outlet. However, the Martian Ensign chose not to speak up and instead attributed the unexpected snarky remark to the Commander’s fatigue. After a brief silence, Took resumed talking in the normal kind of voice which Amanda was used to. ”Besides, that’s not what keeps me awake at night. Don’t you hear it?”

For a brief moment both she and the Commander kept their quiet while they both listened but, even though she tried, Amanda couldn’t hear anything. ”I’m sorry, Commander. I don’t hear anything.” As she spoke, the blonde-haired Psychiatrist carefully rested her blue-eyed gaze on the Caitian Executive Officer while he seemed to be listening to... something. Whatever it was, Commander Took apparently did hear it and the look in his intense amber eyes grew a little concerned while he spoke up. It was beginning to unnerve Amanda, but she kept quiet and instead began to take notes.

”It’s like a whisper in the back of my head.” The Commander noticed how she was taking notes and, as he continued, Took answered her unspoken question. ”I didn’t hear when we first entered the Cocytus Nebula. It started... twelve hours in, I think. By that time Lieutenant Bennion noticed that the pressure on our hull was increasing and, when Captain Anders asked her to clarify, Lieutenant Beale mentioned that the nebula was getting more dense.” While Amanda wasn’t a scientist, she raised her eyebrows and looked up from her notes in surprise; something which Commander Took didn’t fail to notice and his gaze became more intense while he lowered his voice. ”What I am about to say now has to stay in this room, do you understand me?” It wasn’t before Amanda nodded and acknowledged his question with a sympathetic ”Of course Sir, everything that is said in this room remains completely confidential.” before the Commander continued. He folded his arms and briefly closed his eyes while he shook his head. ”No, I mean that you shouldn’t take notes of this.” In response, the blue-eyed Martian put her PADD back on her desk and folded her hands beneath her chin. This was one of her telltale signs of listening intently and, given how she couldn’t make notes now, Amanda figured she’d need to commit this to memory. ”When we initially entered the Cocytus Nebula, Captain Anders chose to be cautious and ordered us to proceed at half impulse given how we barely have functioning short-range sensors. Several hours after Lieutenant Beale mentioned that the nebula was getting more dense, Ensign Hunt discovered that our speed had gradually decreased as the nebula increased in density. I told her to compensate, and that’s when I first started hearing this whisper. Our navigational computer is now automatically compensating for hull pressure and nebula density, increasing power to the impulse engines in order to keep us at half impulse, but it’s like the whisper only gets stronger when the computer does so.”

For a brief moment, Amanda’s blue eyes met with the amber eyes of the Commander as they both fell silent. These issues were unlike anything she was familiar with but, according to that age-old Galactic wisdom, it was never a good sign to hear voices in your head regardless of what species you were. Amanda considered the possibility that the combination of hull pressure, nebula density and speed were producing vibrations along the USS Aurora’s outer hull which Commander Took, as a Caitian and thus in possession of far superior hearing than most other species, was able to hear. Lacking any other Caitians to cross-check this theory however, she made the mental note to share her thoughts with Lieutenants Marshall, Bennion and Beale to see if it was plausible; even though Commander Took did mention that this was supposed to remain confidential, Amanda knew that the three Lieutenants, as Senior Staff officers, were already aware of the ongoing issues so she could discuss this with them as long as she wouldn’t directly implicate the Executive Officer. In the meantime however, she had to come up with a solution on the short-term.

”Alright Commander, I’m going to prescribe you some mild sleeping medication.” As she spoke, Amanda reached for her PADD once more and began to clear the medication with Sickbay. ”Try to get a good night’s sleep, the full seven or eight hours. That should at least take the edge off while I look into this a little further.” Amanda’s signature sympathetic smile returned to adorn her face. ”Come see me again tomorrow after breakfast, alright?” She watched how the brown-furred Caitian slowly rose up from his chair, towering over her as he did so, before thanking her for listening to his concerns. Following the Commander’s example, Amanda rose to her feet as well and nodded. ”They say that’s what I’m here for, apparently. Don’t worry about it, alright? Everything is going to be alright.”

Re: [2380] The Ashby Files: The USS Leyte Dossier

Reply #3
Stardate 57290.7
November 24, 2380
1915 HRS

Time inside Cocytus Nebula: 61 HRS

[Ensign Amanda Ashby | Conference Room | Deck 01 | USS Aurora]

’Resident Psychiatrist’s log, supplemental. It has been a little over three hours since our short-range sensors located the USS Leyte adrift within the Cocytus Nebula. The USS Aurora is holding position within visual range of the derelict Defiant-class ship and, while I notice that the general mood aboard the ship has improved now that we found the proverbial needle in the haystack, there remains a sense of anxiety over the fate of our colleagues aboard the USS Leyte. I personally feel it too; just one look at that dark, looming hull drifting in the dense nebula off our port bow would be enough to give even a Vulcan the chills.

A boarding party is being prepared to search for survivors, and Captain Anders requested my presence in the Conference Room from where we will be able to follow the live footage from the away team.’

There was a certain tension in the Conference Room that was almost as dense as the Cocytus Nebula itself. As Amanda nervously fumbled with her fingers, her blue eyes looked around the half-empty Conference Room and noticed similar nervous looks on the faces of the Command Staff as well; it was obvious that no one really felt at ease with the current situation. For the blonde-haired Psychiatrist however, a part of her anxiety also originated from Captain Anders’ decision to place Commander Took in charge of the mission. Although he was a very capable officer who had repeatedly proven himself during some of the hardest fighting of the Dominion War, someone Amanda knew would rather die than give up on his fellow colleagues, it nevertheless remained a hard fact that the hulking Caitian Executive Officer was dealing with some issues that could impair his judgment. Despite all that, the young Martian hadn’t spoken up about this to the Captain, nor made any mention about her concerns in her personal log, mainly because she felt intimidated by the significant pressure that came with speaking up against a highly competent and very experienced Starfleet Commander as a mere Ensign.

Right now, that neglect added a lot of additional pressure at a moment when Amanda could absolutely do without it. In the words of Eminem, that famous poet of old; it would probably come back to bite her in the ass.

When the door of the Conference Room suddenly opened with a signature hydraulic hiss and Captain Rebecca Anders walked in, the tension somewhat dissipated as the remainder of the Command Staff instantly began to sit up straight and assemble their notes for the upcoming mission. ”Good evening everyone.” As she spoke up, the usual calm tone of the Captain’s voice seemed to further dispel the tension. ”Before we begin, I’ll give you all a quick rundown of these past hours just so we’re all up to speed.” Amanda noticed that, for a brief moment, the Captain smiled at her. Obviously, as the only one in the room who wasn’t a member of the Command Staff, this mainly meant that she was the one who needed to be brought up to speed. ”Seven hours ago, our short-range sensors picked up a trail. If we hadn’t been solely relying on our short-range sensors or travelled at higher speeds we might have missed it altogether but, regardless, we picked up this miniscule trail where the high density of the nebula was previously disturbed.” To clarify, Lieutenant Amber Beale spoke up as well. ”Like a torn piece of clothing hastily repaired with liquid suture. The high density of the nebula tries to ‘repair’ any disturbances with such force that it creates a ripple effect that takes quite a while to fully subside.” With an appreciative nod in the direction of the British Chief Science Officer, Captain Anders pressed a button on the table; allowing a holographic representation of a Defiant-class Destroyer to appear above it. ”Now, the USS Leyte. Given the hull pressure we’re subject to, the USS Leyte would not have been able to launch escape pods so if her crew survived, they are still aboard. Our sensors weren’t able to locate any life signs but, since they haven’t been that reliable since we entered the Cocytus Nebula, I’m not inclined to give up on our colleagues just yet. Ensign Ashby,” Amanda noticed how the Captain turned her attention back towards her. ”Once the boarding party finds our missing colleagues, they’ll be transported back to the Aurora. Those people have been through a lot since their disappearance, so please make sure they are welcomed with open arms.”

In response, Amanda presented the Captain with a nod. ”Yes Captain, of course.” Even though she’d been a little surprised upon learning that the Chief Medical Officer, Lieutenant Owen Taylor, was ordered to join the boarding party as medical support instead of her, Amanda quite honestly also felt a little relieved; it was unnerving enough as it was to watch the derelict Defiant-class Destroyer through the viewports. Now Captain Anders explained why she’d decided to send the higher ranking of her two Medical Officers along with the boarding party, the blonde-haired Psychiatrist understood the reasoning behind the decision and was once again thankful for her career path. ”Our boarding party will consist of Commander Took,” Amanda flinched a little. ”Lieutenant Commander Walker, Lieutenant Taylor and Lieutenant Junior Grade Marshall. The Defiant-class is notoriously cramped, and Commander Took agreed that sending a larger boarding party would only be counter-productive. For all we know, whatever happened aboard the Leyte might still be aboard and the last thing we need is to draw unnecessary attention.” The Captain paused for a brief moment and Amanda assumed that everyone was thinking exactly the same thing at that point. No one was really envious of the boarding party if that was the case. ”We’re beaming the boarding party directly into Leyte’s Transporter Room 2, the only area on which we could get somewhat of a lock with our targeting sensors, and once the team is aboard we’ll be able to watch their live footage on the screen so we can provide them with support if necessary.”

Captain Anders paused once more to press another button on the table, and the the holographic image above it changed to reveal the deck plans of a Defiant-class Destroyer. With that, she tapped her combadge and spoke up. ”Anders to Took, you’re clear to go. Good luck, and send Captain Parker my regards once you find him.” Despite the situation, or perhaps because of it, the otherwise calm voice of the Captain was more upbeat and a smile adorned her face. By the time four dots appeared on the holographic deck plan above the table however, all located in Transporter Room 2, the smile had already disappeared again. In unison, Amanda and the remaining members of the Command Staff followed the Captain’s example and turned their attention to the screen where the live footage was streamed to.

And so it began…

Re: [2380] The Ashby Files: The USS Leyte Dossier

Reply #4
Stardate 57290.71
November 24, 2380
1920 HRS

Time inside Cocytus Nebula: 61 HRS

[Ensign Amanda Ashby | Conference Room | Deck 01 | USS Aurora]

After the boarding party had beamed over to the USS Leyte and Commander Took reported their safe arrival, Amanda initially thought that the cameras on their EVA suits were malfunctioning. It wasn’t until several seconds later, when the Executive Officer and the three other members of the team activated their night vision display, that their live footage finally came online; albeit cast in an eerie green glow that only made it more unsettling to watch.

”It seems we’re dealing with a ship-wide blackout. According to our readings the atmosphere is breathable though, albeit somewhat stale.” As he spoke, the live footage showed Commander Took standing in front of a wall console with a tricorder in his hand. When he connected an external power source directly onto the large touch screen of the wall console with his other hand, it flickered back to life and, somewhat unnervingly, immediately began to display a Red Alert. Seemingly unfazed however, the Caitian Executive Officer attempted to enter various commands before speaking up once more. ”This console is locked out. Command has apparently been rerouted to Main Engineering.”

”At least we now know why we managed to get a lock onto this specific part of the ship though.” Lieutenant JG Bradley Marshall, the USS Aurora’s Chief Engineer, was clearly a lot more tense than his Caitian superior. His footage showed various external power sources connected to the transporter platform, and as he spoke there was a nervous tone in his voice that was rather hard to miss. ”It seems like the crew tried to boost the range of the transporter far beyond its normal operating parameters. I have no idea as to what end because they had nowhere to transport themselves to, but they were definitely working on something here. Even without main power, their modifications managed to emit a very feint signature for our targeting scanners to lock on to.” He stood back up again and turned to face the other members of the boarding party. ”I’d like to take a closer look at the transporter buffer. If they modified their buffer as well it might give me a clearer picture of what they were trying to accomplish.”

Back in the Conference Room, Amanda noticed that she wasn’t the only one who looked up to the holographic layout of the USS Leyte. Several other members of the Senior Staff, including Captain Anders herself, all shifted their attention to the blueprints to see where the Transporter Buffer Compartment was located. Before the blonde-haired Psychiatrist had even finished searching Deck 1, the Captain spoke up. ”It is directly across the corridor from Main Engineering, Took. You’re headed in that direction anyway, so give it a look if possible. It might not hurt to investigate what they were working on.”

They could all see the camera in Commander Took’s helmet shake a little as he nodded in agreement. ”Acknowledged. Walker, you’re with Marshall. Mister Taylor, you’re on me.” With those words, the Caitian Executive Officer briefly turned his attention to the burly British Chief of Security whom had been standing next to the entrance of Transporter Room 2 and, with a curt nod, the two of them swiftly moved through the door to cover both ends of the corridor.

Lieutenant Commander Walker was the first to see it, and his coarse remark prompted Commander Took to turn around. By then, the British Chief of Security was already in a tactical position, down on one knee and carefully scanning the surroundings with his phaser in hand.

There was a barricade in the corridor. It was a hastily assembled construction, roughly 4,5 feet in height, and it blocked all access to the corridor leading to the Shuttle Bay and the front part of the USS Leyte. More importantly, it supported the theory that someone –or something- hostile had found their way aboard the ship. ”Walker?” As Took dropped down on one knee next to the Chief of Security, it took only the mention of the man’s name for him to give an assessment. ”There are no bodies on this side of the barricade, and there are no visible signs of a struggle. No phaser scorching, no blood…” The only visible indication that Bryce Walker was more alert than normal was the volume of his voice; while usually raucous, it was little more than a hushed mutter. ”Only one way to know for sure though.” For a brief moment the live footage of Commander Took and Lieutenant Commander Walker showed the two men looking at each other, before the two men nodded at each other in silent agreement and they both swiftly leapt into action. While the Caitian Executive Officer rounded the corner leading towards Main Engineering and dropped to a knee once more to keep the corridor locked down, the Chief of Security quickly made his way towards the barricade, scanned for hostile activity coming from the Shuttle Bay or the front part of the ship, and then quickly peered at what was on the other side of the barricade.

It was a series of events so often trained that it clearly became a routine, and it happened so fast that no one in the Conference Room had the time to properly prepare themselves for what was on the other side of the barricade. When Lieutenant Commander Walker peered at what was there, a collective gasp went through the Conference Room.

At nothing.

”Area clear.” As he spoke, the Chief of Security was already turning back from the barricade to join the Executive Officer in the other corridor. At the same time they were joined by Lieutenant Taylor and Lieutenant JG Marshall, who came around the corner with their own phasers drawn as well. ”We stick to the plan. Mister Walker, you and Mister Marshall go to the Transporter Buffer Compartment to find out what the crew was working on. Mister Taylor, you’re with me. We’re going to Main Engineering to find out what happened here.” Just before the small boarding party started moving again, the Commander spoke up once more though, this time directed at the small group of Senior Officers in the Conference Room. Aurora, we’re cutting the feed. The last thing we need is someone hacking in to our stream and getting a live fix on our position.”

Before Captain Anders could even open her mouth to protest, the live footage of Commander Took went offline, followed closely by the footage of the Chief of Security. Both men had served through the Dominion War and their wartime experience was showing, and while the strategy behind it was sound that didn’t necessarily mean that their Commanding Officer agreed to it. However, Captain Anders could only say as much as ”I don’t-…” before the live footage of Lieutenant Taylor and Lieutenant JG Marshall showed their two ranking officers waving at them, resulting in their footage and communication being cut as well; leaving the five officers in the Conference Room in silence.

Several seconds passed by in silence, with everyone staring at Captain Anders but unsure of what to say, before the Captain spoke up herself. ”Lieutenant Bennion, try raising them again.” As she spoke, there was a hint of annoyance in the Captain’s voice that everyone seemed to notice. The Canadian Chief Operations Officer quickly rose from her seat and made her way over to a wall console to re-establish communications. At the same time, Amanda coughed softly before speaking up; hoping to be of some help as well. ”Captain, shall I head to Sickbay and prepare it to receive wounded?” While there was a nurse aboard as well, Amanda knew that she was the only Medical Officer aboard in the absence of Doctor Taylor. In hindsight it was a stupid question, which was made painfully obvious by the “You don’t say?”-look on Captain Anders’ face as the blonde-haired Commanding Officer turned to Amanda. ”Yes Ensign, that would be a wonderful idea.” The tone of the Captain’s voice left little room for misinterpretation or discussion so, with that, Amanda quickly made her way out of her seat and began to quickly walk towards the door of the Conference Room.


Re: [2380] The Ashby Files: The USS Leyte Dossier

Reply #5
Stardate 57290.71
November 24, 2380
1923 HRS

Time inside Cocytus Nebula: 61 HRS

[Ensign Amanda Ashby | Sickbay | Deck 03 | USS Aurora]

The doors of the turbolift had just closed behind Amanda when her combadge chirped to life and the voice of Captain Anders rang out. ”Anders to Ashby, prepare to receive incoming wounded.” It was a call which every Medical Officer learned to dread and, as the young Psychiatrist felt how the hairs on the back of her neck began to rise, she quickly acknowledged the call with a hasty ”Yes Captain.” before turning her attention to the computer. ”Deck three.” While the computer beeped in confirmation and the turbolift began to descend, Amanda nevertheless began to wring her hands in anxiety as she worried about the injuries that would be awaiting her arrival in Sickbay; after weeks aboard a derelict Defiant-class Destroyer, she knew that whatever she was faced with simply couldn’t be good.

When the turbolift finally arrived on Deck 03 after what had felt like an eternity to Amanda, she quickly took a left and hurried towards Sickbay. In a twist of irony, the Sickbay door failed to open as she approached it; leading the blonde to crash head-first into the solid metal. As she harmlessly bounced away from the door, Amanda’s shocked cry was half-muffled by the hand which she immediately brought up to her now painful nose. While checking if there was blood on her hand (there wasn’t), Amanda stepped up to the wall panel next to the door in order to enter her access code and manually open the door. The message that declined her code came as a rather unexpected surprise.

The decontamination protocols were in effect.

With a frown, Amanda entered her access code again in an attempt to bypass the decontamination protocols, but her attempt was once again met with an unresponsive beep. According to the error message on the screen, the protocol was activated by the Chief Medical Officer, Lieutenant Owen Taylor; effectively locking her out of Sickbay because her own access codes lacked the authorisation to override the man. With an impatient sigh, Amanda tapped her combadge and spoke up with a voice that only further hinted at her frustration. ”Ashby to Taylor, I’m locked out of Sickbay. Are you alright in there?” 

It took a moment before the Chief Medical Officer replied and, as he did so, there was a hint of annoyance in the man’s own voice. ”Yes Ensign, I’m perfectly capable of handling the situation in here. Please head up to the Officer’s Mess with Nurse Bullard and convert it into a Triage Bay until we can lift this lockdown.” Amanda took a breath in preparation to speak up, but Lieutenant Taylor’s curt ”Taylor out.” put their brief discussion to an end. Knowing that Doctor Taylor had more important business to attend to, especially now he was dealing with several wounded on his own without even a Nurse to assist him, Amanda shrugged and turned around to follow the Chief Medical Officer’s orders.

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