U.S.S. Corsair - NX-011979
Nebula II Prototype
“Sic Parvis Magna”
(Greatness From Small Beginnings)
“Impasse – Part 2”
How could what was classified a hazardous wasteland be at the same time so impressively awe inspiring? That answer eluded the captain of the Corsair as he gazed out one of the briefing room’s large windows into the vast wreckage of a ruined solar system. Destroyed eons ago by the system’s exploding star, the Nakadia system was an impressive display of nature’s raw and untamed power.
Before him spread across a black canvas were the remnants of several planets. Many had been smashed to rubble creating a rocky debris field that stretched for hundreds of thousands of kilometers in all directions. Intermixed within the field were huge pillow like pockets of various gases. Like miniature nebulae the clouds varied in size, shape, and color creating a surreal view which was as beautiful as it was deadly.
Perhaps the visual crown jewel of the system was a massive planet split open by the star’s demise. Only partially destroyed the rocky titan sat in a sea of its ruined brethren. The planet had been ripped in half its surface marred with billions of craters, deep cracks, and fissures that bore testament to its violent end. Its iron core, still encased in a rocky prison, glinted in the dim light of the nearby dying star.
The scene was breathtaking and yet despite its visual splendor Ramius had to deduce a way to penetrate the rocky barrier to gain access to the system’s clear interior. Navigating debris fields and asteroid belts was among the most dangerous piloting feats due to the unpredictable nature of millions of rocks moving at high speeds in a confined area of high gravitational attraction. Like a game in interstellar pinball on the grandest scale, debris fields were a pilot’s nightmare. Modern computers, despite their massive computing power, were as of yet unable to quickly adapt to the sheer randomness of thousands or millions of objects all moving at differing speeds and rotations, sometimes colliding with one another, creating additional movement on exponential scales. Ramius had once equated navigating dense asteroid fields to swimming in a pool only doing so without getting wet – a metaphor for being almost impossible.
Faced with a difficult decision, he waited patiently in the conference room for his senior staff to arrive. They slowly trickled in as he continued to stare out at the majesty of the system and the remnants of a calamity long since past.
Feeling the eyes of the room upon him, Ramius turned and took a seat at the head of the table.
“Well people there it is”, he said sweeping his hand in a broad gesture across the windows of the room, “the Nakadia system and its collection of wrecked worlds and planetary victims. As you can see it is a seemingly impenetrable wall of rock, ice, gas, radiation, and strong gravitational fields.”
“You sure can pick great vacation venues”, Commander Everic muttered softly in jest.
Ramius dismissed the lighthearted comment focusing on the task before them.
“We must find a way through that barrier in order to navigate closer to the large remaining planet or rather what’s left of it. Our twenty year old records indicate that a Klingon mining station was constructed in the planet’s orbit where it was eventually abandoned. There are also spotty records of an installation on the planet’s surface where additional mining activities were conducted. Our mission is to breech the barrier safely and scan the interior of the system and its remains for any signs of recent activity. There is strong evidence to suggest a Federation renegade has escaped into this region and may be hiding at one of the abandoned facilities. Intelligence considers this renegade a high value target and we have been ordered to locate, capture, and detain this individual for questioning. Our target is a scientist by the name of Ballentine who is wanted in connection with illegal scientific experiments, the explosion on Astate, as well as roughly a dozen other ethical and legal infractions. While this mission is extremely hazardous, Starfleet wants to send the message that no one is beyond the reach of justice for their actions and crimes.”
Pausing, Ramius took a brief moment to study his staff’s faces to determine their reception of the information he was presenting. He was no telepath, but he was a good judge of people. Their facial expressions and eye movements could speak volumes even if he was unable to read their thoughts. Satisfied they had been given the proper amount of time to digest the information he had presented, Ramius continued.
“One of two things has occurred. Either the station was abandoned which in case it would have eventually been pulled toward the planet’s remains by its strong gravity and destroyed or it is still there and maintained by what we believe are NeoDyne staff, along with Dr. Ballentine who are conducting illicit activities.
Whatever the case we need to get close to that planet to ascertain the fate of the abandoned mining station. The debris field prevents scanning of the planet and the system’s interior directly which requires us to penetrate the asteroid field to conduct detailed scans. Suggestions?”
Science Officer Howe spoke first. “Perhaps a series of probes sir. They’re small enough that they could potentially navigate the field and relay back additional information on a way through. Even if we lost a few the data sent back by the ones that make it would be of high navigational value.”
“I have considered that option”, Ramius answered. “It is a good option with few risks to our safety, but I’m concerned the probes would be easily detected if there is someone in there. Right now we have the element of surprise. I do not want to squander that strategic advantage if at all possible.”
“I agree”, Tactical officer Redstone chimed in. “If we tip our hand traversing the area and are engaged by hostile forces in this area we will be extremely limited in our ability to counter attack or defend ourselves while caught in a rocky net from which there would be no easy escape.”
“What about modifying the navigational deflectors to clear a path ahead of us”, Commander Novada suggested. “Is that possible Sai?”
Chief Engineer Sai Kusinagi shook his head. “It’s possible, but I think the captain wants a quick solution if I’m reading between the lines correctly. Modifying the main deflector might be possible, but we would need a few days to make the adjustments. We would have to tie in warp power to generate a deflection field powerful enough to plow through that wall out there. A good idea, but not a quick solution.”
Ramius nodded. “Time is against us. The longer we wait the colder the doctor’s trail becomes. Additionally, we are in disputed space and have violated treaty obligations. The sooner we can depart the area the less chance of us being detected by a Romulan or Klingon ship who might be undetectable with their extensive use of cloaking technology. Causing a diplomatic incident is also not an option. What we need is a fast, but elegant, and workable solution.”
“I hate to play devil’s advocate”, Doctor Durandel said leaning forward, “however has anyone considered the fact that what we’re proposing may very well be too risky and dangerous to attempt given the captain’s criteria. It just seems that risking the ship, its crew, and possible detection by Romulan or Klingon forces to capture a single fugitive is too high a gamble. No offense captain. ”
“None taken doctor”, Ramius answered. “That’s why we’re here. I want to discuss our options. Accepting a slower approach may be our only option, but I want to explore every idea before having to make that determination.”
“What about the tractor beams”, the doctor mentioned. “Could we use those in some way?”
“Same problem as the deflector”, Kusinagi answered. “Not enough power. We’d have to alter the tractors to emit a repulsor effect and tie in main power to generate a large enough field to ensure the Corsair’s safety. The alterations wouldn’t take as long, but it would still take some time and it’s possible we could burn out the emitter array if we run into something too massive to move out of our flight path.”
“I have an idea”, Commander Everic said leaning back in his chair. “It’s risky, insane, and has a less than great odds of success, but it’s possible.”
Ramius motioned for Everic to continue.
“We could launch four fighters and have them take position in front of the Corsair, say around two thousand kilometers. We tie the fighter’s sensors in together to form essentially a large sensor platform and transmit that data back to the Corsair as we fly on ahead. Our fighters are more maneuverable than the Corsair and should be able to dodge any hazards and the advance sensor notice would give the Corsair time to correct its flight path to account for any debris we detect. Tactical and Engineering would need to make full use of the deflectors, phasers, and tractors to clear small debris away from the hull, but in theory this could work, well at least I think it has a chance of working.”
Ramius pondered the scenario for a moment. “What do you think Sai?”
Kusinagi shrugged. It’s a gamble sir. There’s some big ifs to account for. If we lose communications with the fighters we’ll need a contingency. Shield strength may be compromised at times in areas with large static-electric gas concentrations. Visual sensors could also be impaired at times. Are we talking about putting the computer in charge of navigating the ship?”
“No”, Ramius answered quickly. “If we run on this premise, I would take the helm personally. I don’t feel comfortable putting our fate in the hands of the computer.”
“Can’t the computer make the navigation adjustments faster and more accurately”, the doctor asked.
Ramius nodded. “Perhaps, but I’m not willing to trust our fate to a computer navigation error. I have an entire career of piloting experience doctor, and I’d put that up against any computer any day.”
“If we had enough lead time to make course corrections this could work”, Science Officer Howe added to the discussion. Ramius was somewhat surprised. He would have thought Howe would be against such an idea.
“I wouldn’t bet credits on this, but the fighter idea could work. I think it’s the best quick solution so far unless there are any other ideas?”
“We could run some simulations on the computer and calculate success probability”, Everic added. “I wouldn’t bet any credits on this hair-brained idea either, but it’s possible.”
“Howe, Everic – run the simulations. Not that I really want to see the odds, but if this is feasible let’s make every attempt to investigate the possibility. Sai, give them a hand as well.”
Ramius stood. “I’ll wait for the simulation results. Unless anyone has any additional input we’ll validate Commander Everic’s idea and run with it if the computer bears out the possibilities. Dismissed.”
The sensor staff nodded and quickly filed out – everyone that is except Doctor Durandel.
“Something on your mind doc”, Ramius asked once the room was empty.
“Sir, you do realize you are gambling with hundreds of lives. What if this mining station no longer exists? What if the area is a giant field of solid rock? I guess I’m having some trouble understanding the need to both enter the area at great risk and the need to conceal ourselves from someone that might very well not even be here. It all seems far too risky to endanger this ship and crew on what seems like flimsy intelligence. Forgive me for my bluntness captain, I realize that the decision is yours to make, but I would like to be a voice of conscious in this matter.”
“Your concerns are quite valid doctor and I appreciate your input. It is valuable as always. You are quite right in your assessment of the situation. Our intelligence is less than perfect and it is possible that nothing remains beyond the rocky veil, however while I cannot speak in great detail about Starfleet Intelligence’s suspicions, it is their contention that NeoDyne is conducting highly illegal and covert experiments of a biological nature if not here then elsewhere. The implications of the intelligence data we do have suggest some highly disturbing activities which must be investigated. If there are illegal activities being performed on the living it is up to us to expose the truth.”
“Biological experiments”, the doctor replied. “What sort of experiments?”
“I can’t go into the details, but they are genetic in nature. Intelligence believes NeoDyne may be working on something which could pose a serious threat. Unfortunately, that is all I can say at the moment.”
“Genetic experimentation? And you said they are doing this on living, human subjects?”
“That is a definite possibility which is why we have been sent here to investigate.”
“Hmm. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes sir. This must be a difficult decision risking many lives on the chance of uncovering something that may or may not exist. I can’t say I envy you, but if you need to talk you know where to find me. I have a few bottles of old scotch I’ve been meaning to drink. I prefer to share it rather than keep it to myself.”
Ramius smiled. “I might take you up on that offer once this situation is over doctor.”
“Aye”, the doctor replied. “I’ll be in sickbay. Wouldn’t hurt to prepare if we do go in there.”
Ramius nodded as the doctor left the conference room. Turning back toward the window, Ramius gazed out over the debris field which ebbed and flowed with its own movement and energy. He had a difficult decision to make soon. Could he make a sound decision and still remain impartial to his own feelings?
Half of him wanted to dash into the field now like a cavalry charge and meet the danger head on. If it meant taking a few bruises and cuts to get to NeoDyne’s throat so be it. However, he was a starship captain, and he couldn’t be governed by his passions no matter how raw and intense they may be. He had other lives to consider and he wouldn’t sacrifice them needlessly to achieve his own selfish goals.
Staring out into the black he felt hesitation. As a combat pilot, hesitation was frowned upon, and could even be grounds for dismissal from combat duties. A combat pilot had to make life or death snap decisions. He had done so countless times before so why now did he feel so on edge?
Ramius quickly turned and headed back onto the bridge. He would wait for the results of the simulation tests and then make his decision whether to proceed into the danger before them or scout the area searching for a safer alternative to enter the core of the Nakadia system. Until he had more information he could do nothing but patiently wait and watch.
[ To Be Continued… ]
Captain Taverain Ramius
Commanding Officer, USS Corsair
Commander Emerson Howe
Commander Sai Kusinagi
Chief Engineering Officer
Commander Keith Durandal
Chief Medical Officer
Lt. Commander Lawrence “Mustang” Everic
Combat Pilot, Squadron Commander