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Part of USS Arcturus: Epsilon Indi Calling

Chapter Eight: Baiting the Trap

USS Arcturus, Main Bridge
Early January, 2399
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“Transmit a full report to Starfleet Security and Starfleet Intelligence,” Hayden ordered, locking eyes with Commander Alesser over Doctor Anjar’s shoulder. She was seething. The ship hadn’t even left port and they were faced with both a hostage situation involving her first officer and three other senior staff and a potential terrorist bombing with an unknown target. “I want this entire star system to go to red alert.”

“Captain, I’m not sure that’s wise,” Anjar said, softly. Her first response was pique, but she bit her tongue as the Bajoran continued.  “The one advantage we have right now is that the perpetrators don’t know that we’re aware of their intentions. Doing anything to tip that hand could be very dangerous for our crewmen, or cause whoever did this to go to ground.”

Hayden exhaled through her nose and leaned back in the chair. Anjar was a doctor, an exceptionally talented one at that, and he’d captained a medical ship, but her instinct was to charge after her people.

“Orders, sir?” Alesser asked.

“Send the reports and put all crew to action stations, but don’t energize shields or weapons,” Hayden confirmed. “I do not like waiting to react to this situation, Doctor, but if there’s a chance we can get through this with our people alive, we’re going to take it.”

“Thank you, Captain,” Anjar replied. “Commander, what’s their ETA?”

“We have them on long-range sensors. They’re about 45 minutes outside the star system itself. Current course has them directly on target for us, but that could change,” Alesser replied.

“Is there any way of neutralizing the threat remotely?” Anjar asked.

“The prefix codes could be used to seize control of the shuttle and divert it away from the ship, but they would need to be within 10 million kilometers to be close enough for us to actually operate their systems without latency,” the operations chief reported. “At that range, we could still have a comfortable targeting margin to destroy them with our own weapons.”

Hayden nodded. Her instinct was to state that she wasn’t going to risk killing her people, but she knew it was the only sensible tactical decision, should all else fails. “What about the homing function on the shuttle?”

“As far as we know, the shuttle is intact and no one aboard other than Captain Lancaster would have the ability to disable  that functionality., Captain. That function can only be used to summon the shuttle directly towards us; we couldn’t give it another destination without rewriting the operating system.”

“If we activate the homing function, the cockpit controls will automatically lock, unless someone has the authority to override, yes?” Hayden said.

“If the controls are locked, no one onboard would notice if we briefly peaked into the sensor logs to see what’s actually happening aboard,” Anjar realized, which made Hayden smile.

“Exactly.”

Hayden looked back to Alesser again. “Using the homing function to cover our intrusion into the shuttle’s sensors and logs to determine who and what exactly are aboard would allow us a margin of error,” the commander agreed. “We could cancel the homing beacon, as well.”

Hayden shook her head. “No, we’re going to bring them right to our doorstep. I don’t want to take a chance and have them picking another target in this system or heading back out into open space,” she replied. “Hail the shuttle and prepare the remote overrides.”