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The Nebula

Posted on 25 Jun 2020 @ 3:56pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Commander Terry Walsh & Lieutenant Commander Joey Geisler & Lieutenant Commander Gemma Alexander & Lieutenant Commander Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant Commander Arjin Djinx & Lieutenant Commander Tivan & Lieutenant Dijaat Parker & Lieutenant JG Charles McCullen

Mission: Ghosts
Location: Bridge
Timeline: MD4 || 1030 hours

Previously... In "As The Bridge Turns..."


The Romulan engineer turned around, "Commander another replicator is on the fritz this time in quarters number eleven on deck nine... It has started producing copious amounts of both oatmeal and fish sticks. Engineering personnel cannot get it to stop." He turned and looked at Tivan with a seriousness in his eye.

"You may want to get down to your quarters..." He told her.

[Ready Room]

"Computer, unlock doors." Harvey watched as the doors slid open, giving him clear view of the bridge. "Go ahead and send in Tivan."

* * *

And Now...

Rhula stepped through the open doors. He locked eyes with the Vulcan counselor. "The Captain will see" He didn't move, staying between the doors and the rest of the Bridge.

"Thank you, Doctor," Tivan said to Rhula. A faint smirk ticked up the corners of her mouth. "That will be all."

When Camila heard that Tivan was being called into the Ready Room, she hoped that Captain Geisler was going to tear her a new ass and let his Security Chief use her to test the repaired torpedo bay. By using her as the torpedo.

* * *

Walking into the Ready Room, Tivan displayed none of the haste or presumption of the past half hour. She smoothed over nonexistent wrinkles in her uniform before settling into a restful posture that favored one hip. "I hope your day is going well," she offered pleasantly. "And, if not, that it improves. There was a matter with which evidently I require your singular assistance. As surely the entire crew is aware, the drills were not a banner day for the ship. I suspect that, in part, the unfortunate outcome was due to irregularities within the newly installed Holographic Assistant and Support Avatar."

Her brow arched as she presented her thesis. "I suspect that the HASA is a prime candidate for a nascent synthetic intelligence. It is possible she already is one. During the drills for which I was present, I observed key nuances from the hologram congruent with sentient thought-forms--verbal and physical cues alike. Somehow, HASA overrode the safety protocols and activated two grenades inside the Armory. As she stated herself, that action was outside of the War Games protocol. I took the liberty of issuing a similar command to activate all local ordnance inside the Armory for imminent detonation. Not only would that have incinerated everybody present, but it could have potentially compromised the hull integrity of the entire ship."

Tivan paused for effect before adding. "HASA categorically refused, citing lack of authorization despite her previous demonstration of personal agency where her actions required no authorization. If HASA is capable of picking and choosing which protocols to follow, then she is indeed capable of self-determination. She refused to obey a direct order that put her own survival at risk whereas she went beyond her previous orders as a curious intelligent being might when exploring boundaries, even at the risk of crewmembers. I would have reported this sooner, but I had to be certain. Therefore, I spent the last two days preparing a psychological battery to test HASA's heuristics for further evidence of self-determination only to discover that my access to HASA has been restricted pending diagnostics. Therefore, I formally ask to be included in the diagnostic efforts surrounding HASA. At this time, I wish the captain to know that although computer programming lies outside of my expertise, the psychological framework which comprises the firmware of all starship computers is not. This would not be my first 'Turing test,' to borrow a reference from your culture."

With that, Tivan folded her hands in front of her waist and gave Harvey a look that fully expected him to see reason.

For the duration of her monologue, Harvey remained unmoving. His posture included several expressions, ranging from blank stares to narrowed eyes and finally to a look that grew closer and closer to haughty derision. When she finished, Harvey remained silent as he evaluated her speech and whether or not any facts were present. "I think you're jumping, no, leaping to conclusions, Counselor," he answered. Oh, how he wished for another shot of that whiskey, but it was far too early to follow that shot with another.

"A couple of glitches do not indicate anything. First, factor in the fact that the ship dropped out of warp into an ion storm that somehow escaped our sensors. Prior to that, there were no unexplained glitches. Any oddities were not reported until that collision. Secondly, you say you took the liberty to request all ordinance in the armory be activated at once. While that was indeed a very sobering and concerning action, what you fail to take into account there is that only four people can make such an authorization: the Armory Officer, the Chief of Security, the Executive Officer, and myself. The last time I checked, you are not one of those four. HASA's... as you say refusal... would have had absolutely nothing to do with you. It's simply because you are not authorized. I'm sorry, Counselor. Your request to join the diagnostic efforts is denied. Upon the final outcome of the diagnostics, I will re-evaluate."

Tivan knit her brow with intrigue. "I understand, Captain," she said coolly. "A commanding officer must balance practical considerations along with..." Her eyes darted to the side toward the door to the bridge and certain individuals therein. "... personal ones. But perhaps you're right. I do hope you are. Otherwise you are currently holding an innocent sentient being in indefinite solitary confinement against their will, which I shouldn't have to tell you is a brand of torture." She sighed, pressed her hands against her thighs, and effected a polite smile. Apparently she was going to have to do this the hard way. "Thank you for your time."

Harvey nodded to Tivan, satisfied that the meeting had gone well, at least for him. "Of course, Counselor. Anything else I can do for you?"

"Not when you think I failed to take things into account after having just explained them to you," she said tersely. "Good day." She left the Ready Room without another word.

The doors closed behind her, leaving Harvey alone in the Ready Room. He sat there for a few moments, staring at the closed door. Harvey, like most of the crew, knew all too well of the Counselor's unorthodox methods. He couldn't shake the feeling that this was far from over.


Charlie was tense, shoulders stiffened and left hand gripping his console, the madness that seemed to be happening behind him was stressing him out. He had thought that Ensign Khan's outbursts in his office had been am isolated case of a disillusioned officer, but it seemed half the senior staff on the Black Hawk were the same way, full of petulance and anger. It was causing him anxiety just thinking about it, but instead of getting up and speed-walking off the bridge, as he wanted to do, he steadfastly kept his eye on the ball, counting down the seconds until, at last, the ship dropped out of warp and he resumed manual helm control.

"Commander Walsh," he spoke up, somewhat unnecessarily, "we've dropped out of warp at our predicted coordinates, engines and maneuvering systems are nominal."

Arjin smiled as he could get his first close look at the new Nebula. It was splendid. "Anyone up for a fantastic lightshow?", he asked as he brought the image up onto the main viewscreen.

"Thank you, Ensign McCullen," replied Terry. He watched as the image of the nebula came up on the viewer. He hoped this would bring an end to the drama on the Bridge. The brawny man smirked a little as the thought of replicating a pocket-sized stuffed animal and calling it the Drama Llama came to mind. "If we're going to test the sensors, we should be inside. Mr. McCullen, take us in...slowly."

"Aye sir, moving us in to the nebula, one quarter impulse." Charlie responded, his fingers running over the console as he brought the impulse engines out of standby and fed them power, driving the ship gently towards the boundary of the cloud. His right hand hovered over the maneuvering thruster controls and his left sat next to the inertia dampening systems, just in case they came across some turbulence."

Once they were far enough inside the nebula, it was time for step two. "Commander Djinx, let's see if these new sensor pallets are palatable to nebulae. Begin your scan, both short range and long range."

Dijaat had returned to his seat and began analyzing the latest diagnostic reports that were coming in from the latest rounds of tests on HASA. He turned, however, when he heard the mention of the nebula and looked out the viewer. "The sensors should be fully operational." He told Commander Djinx.

“Splendid!”, Arjin responded. The nebula travelled all the colour spectrum with spectacular outbursts of blues and reds taking the upper hand. The data that came in would give his staff enough work for weeks. And what was more, the upgraded sensors delivered images of obscene sharp detail. It was as if you stood inside the cloud itself.

The ship slipped slightly to the left as they passed from one cloud into another and a current of charged gaseous matter pushed on the hull, Charlie compensated, using the port bow thruster to bring her back on course and hold her there.

After the latest manouver, the tone of the nebula switched towards white and yellow. On the far starboard side, he also noticed a silvery glance that had catched his eye. “Lieutenant. Could you please take a heading towards bearing 65 Mark 4 please?”

"Sixty five, mark four." McCullen echoed, ramping up the port thrusters and shooting a little ventral bow to push the ship across to starboard and come bow up to the heading requested. It only took a moment and then he glanced back Arjin, "on course, commander."

"Okay, Commander, what do you have?" asked Terry. "What have the sensors picked up at that location?"

“The reflexion you can see in front is too bright to be of natural cause. Spectral analysis confirms this. It seems to be a constructed object. It could fit with lets say a ship part. But we would need to get closer to confirm this. I do advise caution to be Kept. The route between here and there would take us through a stretch of rough to navigatie space.”

"I can modify the shield frequency to help compensate for any gravitational sheering effects that we may experience while getting closer to the object being picked up on sensors," Dijaat said from the engineering console, "I also recommend finding the best course through where the sheering effects are lessened." Dijaat explained further, "The structural integrity grid will need to be shored up as well. I recommend that we take power from some of the non-essential systems in order to do this."

“That would indeed be very helpfull.”, Arjin nodded towards the Engineer.

The Security Chief shot a glare at the Engineer and made a mental note to see if the half breed Romulan had any interesting details in his background that Starfleet may have missed. "The shields are at peak efficiency," she reported.

Dijaat ignored the comment and continued to work on it. From what he had seen so far on the bridge many of the senior officers were in a foul mood anyway.

Terry leaned down and placed his forehead in his hand, effectively creating a facepalm. What was wrong with the Senior Staff today? he thought to himself. Walking on to the Bridge and making demands to see the Captain, barging into his Ready Room, leaving duty stations, and now giving a visual in place of sensors. Terry was beginning to think that it was time to visit Doctor Jennin for some migraine meds.

"Mister Djinx," said Terry calmly and precisely after lifting his head, "While I applaud your eyesight, had I wanted a closer look at that location, I'd have asked Operations to magnify that portion of the viewscreen. I asked what the sensors picked up at that location. I want a definitive answer from the long-range sensors. Not what it seems to be or what it could fit. I want a sensor report. Good catch on the rough patch of navigable nebula, though, Commander."

"While the shields are currently operating at peak efficiency," continued Terry, "if there is a rough patch between here and there, I want to be ready for it. Commander Di Pasquale and Lieutenant Parker, work together on making sure we have the right shield modulation as we go through. And Parker, pull that power for the structural integrity. Last thing I want to do is break this ship any further right out of dock. Ensign McCullen, find a course that won't shake us up or tear the hull off," said the Commander. "And get us there now. Now will someone on this Bridge please get me a sensor report."

Arjin clinged his jaw. “Barbarian”, he thought. “Whats not to like about viewing the splendor of this nebula with the bare eye.” Instead he said: “Yes Commander.”

"Yes Commander," Dijaat answered Walsh first. He then turned his attention to Commander Di Pasquale, "Commander I agree they are at peak efficiency, however, they need to be changed to a rotating frequency based on the sensor information coming out of the nebula."

Like I don't have that same information and capability the Security Chief thought, but didn't bother looking at the other officer or responding.

"Aye sir," followed McCullen, he'd started working before the commander had finished speaking, his brain going at full speed as he studied the sensor map of the nebula. Currents, eddies, shifting modulations and frequencies of wave patterns all merged into a topographical style map that was constantly shifting patterns and colors. Through it, he could see the nebula as a living, moving thing and picture in his mind what it was doing. There was a course through, he could see it, but it would be narrow, it would be twisty and it would be bumpy. It sounded like fun, and in a smaller, nimbler ship without nearly eight hundred breakable bodies aboard, it would have been. "I think I have a course, sir, on your command."

"Yes," Terry replied. "Go."

"Aye sir," McCullen replied, tapping the appropriate buttons to engage the engines and tagging on "this might get a little rough." He brought the Black Hawk's bow to bear and pushed her into the nebula, the first obstacle was a ripping flow of charged particles that bounced off the shields and slipped her to port, rather than fight it entirely he let her strafe just long enough to line up the next part of the path, the shields shimmered and he could feel the vibration through his seat.

Part two, and Charlie surged the engines to drive her forward out of the current and into a lull, an eddy of spiraling gas that wasn't, for the moment, much to contend with, there was a narrow gap five degrees to starboard and ten negative-z and he gently spun the 'Hawk to line up, as best he could, with the hole. To the port and starboard there were streams of matter, what appeared to be negatively charged iron particles stuck in a magnetic plasma stream. It was kind of beautiful to look at, but also bloody dangerous. He nudged her into the gap, gently coasting through the narrow corridor.

They had arrived at the nebula. No sensor report from the newly updated sensors they were to be testing. They had nudged into the outer fringes of the nebula blindly, except for a few pictures. Then off on a course of six-five mark four. Now they were here, at the those specific coordinates inside the nebula. "Mr. McCullen, all stop."

"Aye sir, all stop," Charlie echoed as he brought the Black Hawk to a halt.

Terry stood up and took a few steps forward, turning to face the Bridge crew. "I have taken this ship into a nebula blindly. I have altered course to...something the distance. Blindly. I'll be surprised if Captain Geisler doesn't have me commanding Waste Reclamation for running willy-nilly around a nebula with his ship and not knowing what's out there." He pointed to the viewscreen. "I will not blindly take this ship any further than these coordinates of six-five mark four without a damned sensor report. Mr. Djinx. Now. Or that Ensign will assume duty at the Science station."

Arjin acknowledged the outburst and continued with his scans. The data was clearer now that they had entered the Nebula. As he analysed further, his eyebrows raised. “Picking up signs from what appears to be ship alloy. They match that of Starfleet design.” Straining the sensors to the maximum, he was able to get a clearer view. Due to his extensive knowledge of Starfleet ships, he was able to deduce the class. “It seems to be a Sabre Class, Sir. If I can get a bit more power to the Sensors, I might be able to get her number and thus her name.”

Camila watched silently and did a quick scan of the ship. It seemed to be completely powered down and defenseless, so she saw no point to arm weapons or raise the shields unless ordered. However, Terry's snark towards Djinx seriously amused her and he wasn't wrong.

With more power, Arjin got the denomination. “It seems to be the USS Shran, sir."

"Sabre Class, USS Shran, huh. Kind of odd to be out here. Commander Geisler, what does Intelligence have on this ship?" Terry asked the Intel Chief.

Joey moved her fingers over her console, then turned her attention to the ship's Executive Officer. "The USS Shran was reported missing in 2388, presumed destroyed, at the beginning of the Consortium Crisis, Commander," she replied.

Terry had sat back down in the chair and was now glad that he did. "Oh hell. Just when you think you've heard the last of something...the Consortium. Thanks, Commander." This needed a little more finesse that what the old Marine had in him. Terry tapped his combadge, "Walsh to Captain Geisler."

"Go ahead, Commander," Harvey sternly replied over the comm. His tone certainly bore a hint of annoyance, and anyone adding to that annoyance would find themselves subsequently assigned to the graveyard shift or possibly even waste reclamation.

Terry took note of the sternness. "We've found the Sabre Class USS Shran, the one that disappeared at the beginning of the Consortium Crisis. She's not destroyed, Sir. She's right in front of us."

The Executive Officer was met with silence. Seconds later, the Ready Room doors opened and Captain Geisler entered the bridge. "The Shran?" he asked as he approached the Command Arena. Without waiting for an answer, the Captain turned to he viewscreen where their new find was displayed for all to see. "Mister Djinx, scan the ship for signs of life. Anyone have any. theories as to why she's out here in the middle of a nebula? Miss Geisler, see if you can access Gamma Command's records on the Shran to see where she was supposed to be around the time of her disappearance."

Terry got up from the center chair, leaving it to the Captain and his discretion. He moved over to the XO stand and his took his normal position. At least for now...

Arjin had already anticipated the question. “There are no lifesigns present on the vessel, Captain."

At helm, Charlie took a moment to stare at the abandoned (maybe? hopefully?) ship and to ponder just who or what the Consortium was, and then began plotting courses. One course was a standard exit out of the nebula, another was an oh crap nebula exit, rough and dangerous, but fast, the third was a course to take them in closer, possibly to docking distance, with the Shran.

Harvey wasn't surprised in the slightest. Only a fool would expect there to be life on a ship that had been adrift for a year and a half. "Miss Geisler," he said at last, "send a flash message to Gamma Command. Inform them that we have found the USS Shran adrift and that we are investigating. Commander Walsh... assemble an Away Team. Standard investigative procedures. Determine what happened to the ship, and whether or not we can pull her out of the nebula."

"Yes, Captain," Joey said, looking through Gamma Command's records just before sending the flash message to inform them the missing ship was found. "The ship was supposed to report to Deep Space 15, and I have alerted Gamma Command that the Shran has been located."

"Understood, Captain," replied Terry. He looked at the condition of the ship on their viewscreen again. "Judging from those hull breaches, holes, and battle damage, it's going to be an EVA mission. And I'd bet there's nebula gases all over the interior. Di Pasquale, Parker, Rhula, Geisler, er, uh, Commander Geisler. Yeah, saw that happening. Suit up and meet me in transporter room one. I'll grab Ryler on my way down there."

"Yes, Commander," Camila said as she turned her station to a duty Ensign and headed off the bridge. She grabbed a tactical belt from the Armory on the way, added a second phaser, a tricorder, two stun grenades, a manual door opener and two spare power cells before she grabbed an EVA suit and headed for the transporter room.

Joey called down to Intel to have a replacement sent up to take her place on the bridge. "Yes, Commander," she said with a nod, casting a brief glance in Harvey's direction before she followed Camila off of the bridge to get ready.

"Mister McCullen," Harvey ordered, taking command of the ship officially again. "Get us within a kilometer of the Shran. Then I want you to hop in a runabout and perform a visual inspection of the Shran's exterior. We'll use your visual scanning and match it with Djinx's new sensors to see how well they're performing. Take whomever you need with you."

Arjin sure was happy he wasn’t going in those EVA suits but taking a ride with a shuttle. “If you can tell me which shuttle you’ll be taking Lieutenant, I can make sure I can access the new sensors from there.”

"Within a kilometer, aye sir." Charlie responded, activating the plan he'd just finished putting in place and gently moving the Black Hawk close in to the Shran, being as careful as he could be to avoid gasses, streams of matter and random debris. "And uh... I'll be taking the Zambezi, commander." It was as good an opportunity as any to test out the new Morava-Class runabout.

Harvey then tapped his badge. "Bridge to Commander Alexander. We're parking in a nebula for a while. Deploy the squadron on a standard CAP. Let's have our pilots stretch their wings for a bit."

Alexander paused in talking to one of the astrometric techs in the Squadron Flight Center at the Captains comm, she replied, "Alexander here, always a good day to fly." She replied confidently, "Anything else, Sir?" She gestured at the tech she'd been talking in a rolling motion with one hand he knew meant, 'update your scan'. He nodded and did so. He moved to one side so she could study more closely the current data on the kind of space they'd be dealing with.

"Nothing at this time, Commander," the Captain replied. "Be safe out there."

"Aye Sir. Alexander Out." She replied efficiently, then turned to the room, "Attention. Spin it up, we've got a patrol." Coms, medical, astrometrics, and the other sub sections looked over at her words then collectively bent to their consoles. Word went out to the ground crews to prep the craft. She tapped her commbadge preferring to pass the word to the pilots herself as all the moving parts that supported their mission sprang into action.

Charlie stood from his terminal and tapped his comm badge, =/\="McCullen to Khan, report to the bridge to take the helm," he requested, then turned and nodded at Arjin, assuming the man was intending to join him in the runabout and walked towards the turbolift, tapping his badge a second time as he walked, =/\= "Chief De Vries, begin prepping the Zambezi for launch."

=^=On my way, Sir,=^= Came Kelly's response.

=^= I’ll make her humming as never before, Lieutenant. =^= Roosjes voice cheerfully entered the Bridge.

Arjin nodded towards Charles, made the connection between the Black Hawk and the Zambezi, and had himself replaced at his station by an Science Ensign. “There is the Ensign you asked for Commander”, he thought without speaking. With a smile and high spirits he followed towards the Turbo lift.

As the transitions on the bridge finished, Harvey settled into his chair. His eyes remained fixed on the listing ship displayed before them on the viewscreen. Six months of restlessness in drydock had yielded to severe tensions among the crew. He was grateful for something to fill that void at last, to unite the crew under a common objective. But he couldn't help but worry that there was more here than met the eye.


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