U.S.S. Corsair - NX-011979
Nebula II Prototype
“Sic Parvis Magna”
(Greatness From Small Beginnings)
"Impasse - Part I"
Captain’s Personal Log
“We’ve been at warp eight after leaving Starbase 145 nearly 51 hours ago. Ship and crew are in good health and spirits though I’m not sure I can say the same for myself.
Although originally enthusiastic about this mission, I can’t help but feel that there is something waiting for us in the Nakadia system. I have no idea what might lie in wait, if anything. This ship and crew can handle almost anything; however, I cannot seem to shake the feeling.
Aside from my personal feelings, we’ve learned the Nakadia system is a wasteland. The last official scouting report of the area was conducted over forty years ago and then only at a distance due to the Neutral Zone treaties. Civilian activity in the area has been more recent, but data from the public sector on this area of space has been spotty at best as most people avoid the area and its many hazards.
What we do know is that eons ago the system’s only star went nova leaving the area a giant debris field filled with the remains of several shattered planets, frozen gasses, ice, and pockets of dense gas. The system’s star, now a white dwarf, emits high levels of radiation adding to the hazards. Due to the collapsed star and the remaining solid cores of the destroyed planets gravity in the area is also highly volatile and unstable. Navigation is hazardous at best; fatal at worst.
We learned a mining station was constructed on the surface some twenty five years ago to extract dilithium and other heavy elements from a planet that was split apart. The facility was abandoned after multiple fatalities and injuries due to the extreme hazards of the area. Intelligence reports suggested that the remains of the mining station were at one time an outpost for pirates, crime figures, and raiders, but it appears that even they have abandoned the area due to its many dangers.
It’s possible NeoDyne refurbished the mining station for their purposes, but if they have, the costs involved in maintaining such a facility would be high as estimated by my science officer. Navigating the area to deliver supplies and equipment is a hazardous affair and one that would be improbable to maintain on a regular, long term basis.
My concern is how best to investigate the area given its notorious record. A wing of fighters would make short work of scouting the area as they are small and nimble enough to avoid most hazards, however I currently have only a few fighters and am reluctant to deploy men and machine into such an unforgiving environment without a contingency squadron on standby to conduct rescue ops in case of an accident. Furthermore, if I am to ascertain if there is a NeoDyne presence, the Corsair will need to enter the area to assist in reconnaissance and provide offensive capabilities should they be needed.
The risks on this mission are far higher than I would prefer with the payoff being vague and unknown. I have both the hazards of the area to contend with as well as a possible NeoDyne presence which could prove to be hostile. Additionally, the area lends itself well to ambush and easily provides cover for hit and run tactics by a smaller, well armed force. As my science officer was all to anxious to point out, on several occasions, we could scout the area using long range sensors to determine the best point of entry however that process would involve several days. Time is also against us requiring prompt action. I cannot afford to play it safe, however I must balance the risk with the reward. This is the first solid lead we have had on NeoDyne in over a year and despite the challenges ahead I cannot allow this opportunity to slip away. The longer we delay, the longer Dr. Ballentine has to slip away if he hasn’t done so already. It is quite possible we are chasing a dead lead while trespassing in disputed space. The stakes are immense, but I still believe are worth the effort if we can find and capture the doctor and any additional research or other NeoDyne data.”
Ramius was interrupted by a call from the bridge.
“Captain, we are now approaching the Nakadia System sir”, the Corsair’s helmsman stated over the comm.
“Understood, slow to half impulse”, Ramius replied closing the channel. “Computer, save and store personal log file.”
Ramius stood from his desk in his ready room and made his way onto the bridge of the Corsair. Taking position at its center, he stared carefully at the viewing screen which revealed a telling picture of what he was up against.
“Let’s get some scans of the area. I want a full analysis of everything within sensor range. OPS, Helm – coordinate your efforts. See if you can find the best route through that rocky mess of ice and asteroids for the Corsair.”
Ramius turned behind him to his tactical officer. “Tac, warm up the weapons and targeting systems. Take us to yellow alert. I want to be ready for anything. Raise the shields up as a precautionary measure and stand by on battlestations.”
“Yellow Alert, Aye Sir.”
The bridge lighting changed slightly to reflect the alteration in the ship’s readiness status. Ramius was unsure what he would find here within the Nakadia system. Commodore Valtren had warned of a possible NeoDyne trap, but Ramius was doubtful the corporation would be audacious enough to attempt to commandeer or attack a Federation starship in an area as hostile and unforgiving as this place. The potential for being identified and exposed was far too great. Nevertheless, the corporation had been rather bold in recent weeks and Ramius couldn’t be sure what its true intentions were. He wasn’t leaving anything to chance.
Before him on the large viewscreen were scattered clouds of seemingly impenetrable, churning gasses left over from a nebula that had existed some countless eons ago. Drifting around and through the clouds were massive chunks of ice, rock, and smaller debris from a small solar system that had been annihilated by the system’s dying star which had gone nova sometime in the past. The star had collapsed forming an area of space littered with high radiation, sensor scrambling gasses and electrostatic discharges, and debris making navigation difficult if not impossible.
“Ops, what do the initial scans tell us”, Ramius asked. He anticipated the response, but wanted to hear it nonetheless.
“High radiation levels and gas density is interfering with sensors. Partial readings only, getting a lot of sensor echoes, and substantial feedback. If we go in there we can expect reduced shield effectiveness and a reduction or loss of tactical and visual sensors.”
“So we’ll be blind and deaf”, Ramius asked.
“Instrumentation will be significantly impacted sir. I recommend we attempt to search for an alternative angle of approach.”
“That would take another day or two at the least to survey the area. We can’t wait that long”, Ramius answered. It’s here or nowhere. I would assume that the same interference issues that would hamper us would also hamper anyone closer inside as well from detecting incoming ships correct?”
“Affirmative sir. The area would impact all known scanning technologies.”
Rubbing his chin, Ramius considered his options. He could play it safe and launch a probe, but that might tip their hand if the probe was detected. He could search for a better approach vector, but that would take time which he had precious little of if he was to track down the mysterious NeoDyne doctor before his trail went cold. The third option was to take the ship in and risk its safety navigating the perilous gas clouds and debris fields in the hopes of encountering the abandoned mining station and possibly locating Dr. Ballentine. To accomplish that goal he would need the full resources of his ship to deal with any unanticipated or unforeseen problems. If NeoDyne was here, he doubted they would go quietly, without some sort of resistance.
“Ops, get as much sensor data as you can in the next ten minutes. I want the senior staff assembled in the conference room in fifteen to discuss our options.”
Taking his seat, Ramius carefully watched the area with the eagle eye of a hawk. His years as a combat pilot told him going in there was a risky proposition for a tiny, one man fighter. Taking in a three million ton vessel was far more hazardous if not suicidal. There had to be a way through the maze of gas, ice, and rocks, but with sensors only able to obtain partial data he would be flying blind. A solution existed he just had yet to find it.
“Helm, move us in closer, but keep us well away from the edge of the debris field. Hold position there until we determine the best entry vector.”
“Aye sir, moving in, one quarter impulse power.”
Ramius’s executive officer leaned over toward the concerned captain. “Sir, what if we used the ship’s deflector dish to create a high energy resonance beam? The energy discharge might clear us a path through the debris.”
“Good idea number one. I might go for it, but I’m concerned the energy discharge might be detected. I don’t want to tip our hand just yet. Right now, I think we still hold the element of surprise.”
Novada nodded. “What about sending in the fighters?”
Ramius sighed. “It’s an option”, he replied. “I don’t like the conditions. If we lost communications and they ran into trouble we don’t possess the pilot reserves to send in search and rescue teams. It’s too much of a risk given the unpredictability of the debris fields and what might lie beyond them. I think we have to take the ship in there, I just don’t know how we’re going to manage that without taking a significant amount of punishment ourselves.”
Ramius stood. “Assemble the senior staff. Let’s go over the options in the briefing room.”
Novada nodded. “Aye.”
[ To Be Continued… ]
Captain Taverain Ramius
CO, USS Corsair
Commander Alanis Novada
XO, USS Corsair