“The time is twenty-hundred hours.” the computer announced with melodic chime.
Treylana’s eyes opened and she uprighted herself from her reclined position on the sofa in her ready room. It wasn’t common for her to sleep while she was technically on duty, but given the nature of her next task, she took her captain’s privilege and granted herself a small power nap to rejuvenate herself before arriving at their destination. She stood up, adjusted her uniform and fixed her hair when a call came from the bridge announcing their arrival and requesting her presence.
Heeding that request, she proceeded out onto the bridge from the room that had basically been her dwelling for the better part of the day. “Scan the planet. What can you tell me about it?” she said as she took a seat in her command chair.
“Sensors read the planet as class M, oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, surface area composed of sixty percent water and forty percent continental landmasses. There appear to be indications of a highly advanced civilization in several large cities on the two largest continents in the Northern hemisphere. However, I’m not detecting any life on the planet’s surface.”
Treylana glanced back at her science officer in shock, “No lifesigns at all?” she asked.
“No ma’am. I’m picking up what appears to be an explosion pattern, centered around one of the largest cities. I can’t quite make out the readings though. There’s too much theta radiation to be able to get clear readings.”
The ship wasn’t but five minutes into the area and already Treylana was on edge about the situation. Fortunately the past twelve hours allowed her to prepare for what was to come. “Helm, put us into a geosynchronous orbit above the largest city. If it should come to it, be prepared to warp out of here at a moment’s notice. If that happens, you’ll only get one shot. Understood?”
Unaccustomed to taking orders directly from the captain, the Gamma shift helm officer acknowledged her orders and ordered the ship into position as requested.
“Bridge to cargo bay one. What’s the status of the resonance chamber?”
“We’ve completed construction,” replied Nichols, “but we haven’t tested it yet. If it’s any comfort, we’ve followed the schematic precisely so it should work.”
“Very well. We’ll have to hope for the best. I’d like for you to take over here on the bridge. Have Petrov remain in the cargo bay to monitor things.”
Treylana terminated the communication and thought about what needed to be done next. She needed to beam down to the planet and get a first hand look at the Omega molecules and what she was dealing with. How could such a catastrophe happen to an entire planet? She thought to herself. She initiated another call via the intercom before rising from her seat and making her way toward the turbolift, “Engineering. Paul…meet me in transporter room one with one other from your team. We’re beaming down to the planet. But before you do, make sure to stop by sickbay for aritrazine inoculations. It’ll briefly protect against the theta radiation down there. We’re also going to need several pattern enhancers and a portable data storage device.”
She didn’t know what had happened to the people on the planet, but if she could save some of their culture by downloading their databases, at least they would not be forgotten.
After receiving her aritrazine inoculation, Treylana made her way to transporter room one where she joined up with Paul and a young chief petty officer. There were a half dozen pattern enhancers already sitting on the transporter pad awaiting the team to assemble. She looked at the two officers as if she was an instructor getting ready to address her pupils for the first time, “You’ve all probably heard a lot of rumors over the last several hours as to what’s going on. Furthermore, you are going to see some things in a few minutes that I will not be able to explain. Under normal circumstances I would deal with this myself, but your assistance is required in order to complete the task as quickly as possible. Our inoculations will only give us about twenty to twenty-five minutes of protection before we begin suffering severe theta radiation poisoning. If any of your colleagues should ask you about what has happened today, you will disavow any knowledge of the event or face extreme discipline. Do I make myself clear?”
Paul looked at his captain knowing full well that she meant what she said, even if he had never seen the side of her that now presented itself just prior to their transport to the surface. He and the chief both acknowledged the captain in unison.
“Good. Paul, you and I will locate the source of the explosion. There will probably be some kind of a test chamber down there. Once we find it, we’re going to set up the pattern enhancers around it so that we can beam the contents into the piece of equipment in cargo bay one. If all goes well, that equipment will neutralize the threat and we’ll call it a day. Chief, your task will be to find a central computer of some kind and try and download whatever you can about the people that once lived here. Historical archives, cultural databases, anything that can be used as a record of who these people were.”
She paused for a moment to let her instructions sink in. “Alright, let’s go.”
The three of them all took up a delta formation on the transporter pad around the pattern enhancers and Treylana nodded to the transporter chief to initiate the transport.
The team rematerialized into what appeared to be the remains of a laboratory. Large amounts of debris made it almost unrecognizable, however there were some areas that remained intact due to structural reinforcements that had been put into place. Treylana hadn’t noticed any bodies in the immediate vicinity. She pulled out her tricorder and began scanning. There were no remnant traces of DNA either. Either there was no one in the room when the explosion occurred, or every trace amount of biological matter was vaporized in the explosion. Not wanting to dwell on the matter, allowing such thoughts detract from their objective, she continued her focus on locating the source of the molecules. She picked up on a signal East of their location and gestured with her left hand the direction which they needed to proceed.
Along their route the chief spotted a computer terminal along a reinforced wall that was still powered. He fell back from the group and set up his data storage device. It would take him some time to gain access to their systems, or so he thought. Though hopefully his tricorder and the universal translator would help to make defeating that barrier a lot easier.
Treylana and Paul continued forward making their way through the debris, climbing over rock piles one minute and ducking under collapsed archways the next. Treylana’s tricorder beeping more furiously the closer they got to the molecules and she could see a bright glow emanating from the next room. Treylana assumed what they were searching for was in that direction. Upon entering the room, they could see a unit that resembled the reaction chamber of the warp core aboard the Atlantia sitting in the center of the room. The only difference seemed to be that the top had been blown clean off.
The number of molecules that were registering on her tricorder were far more than she had imagined. She had expected a few dozen, maybe a couple hundred, but her scans indicated that there were possibly thousands or more molecules in the reaction chamber. “Looks like we’ve found what we’re looking for,” she quipped, “We’d better get started.”
It took Paul every ounce of restraint to refrain from asking questions about what exactly it was they were doing, but thinking back to their briefing in the transporter room, he thought it was probably better that he didn’t know. He wouldn’t be able to leak information to his colleagues that he didn’t know. Taking cues from Treylana’s positioning of the first pattern enhancer, he positioned two more on the opposite side of the chamber approximately six meters apart, activating each one once they were in place.
Treylana positioned and activated the final pattern enhancer and signalled the ship once the field was initialized, “Hess to Atlantia. We’re in position and ready to begin transport.”
She waited for a brief moment as the message was routed to the cargo bay. Xenie had been monitoring the readouts of the chamber and was satisfied with what she was seeing. “Ready to begin transport Captain.” she replied, “Locking onto the coordinates now. Initializing transport.”
As soon as the transport cycle began, alarms started going off in the cargo bay. Something was not right with the resonance chamber she couldn’t identify. Considering how crucial to the mission Treylana made the chamber sound, Xenie frantically rushed to abort the transport cycle. Without knowing what the issue was, she couldn’t risk continuing.
“What happened up there?” Treylana demanded.
“I don’t know Captain. Something is wrong with the chamber that I can’t identify. I’m going to have to run a full diagnostic of the chamber if we are to attempt to transport again.”
“We don’t have that luxury Commander. This substance is too unstable to make another attempt. We’re going to have to go with plan B.”
Treylana instructed Paul to help her gather the pattern enhancers and then the two of them made their way back toward their teammate and the beam-in site. “How did you fare with the computer systems?” Treylana asked the chief as they approached him.
“It was surprisingly easier than anticipated, Captain. For a highly advanced species, it seems they put little effort into the security of their systems. I have their entire databases downloaded.”
“Excellent work Chief, hopefully we can learn a lot about them.”
They reached the point of beam in, when suddenly Treylana started to feel a little light headed. It had been expected as the effects of the arithrazine were beginning to wear off. Signalling to the ship she requested an immediate beam out before she started feeling really ill.
When they rematerialized back on the ship, Treylana looked at Paul queasily, “Report to sickbay and have the doctor check the two of you out.”
“Aye, Captain.” Paul replied.
Treylana was about to leave the transporter room before stopping in her tracks and looking back at Paul, “Oh! And tell the doctor I’ll report there as soon as I’ve dealt with the situation. I know he’ll get his panties in a bunch when I’m not there with the two of you?” then continued to the nearby turbolift to take her to the bridge.
The turbolift doors opened and Phil looked back to see a commanding officer that looked like she had seen better days. Treylana caught the expression on his face and knew what he was going to say, “I’m fine Commander. I’ll go see the doctor in a bit. What’s our status here?”
“Everything is status quo as far as operations go. Xenie reports that she believes the instability of whatever it was we were trying to beam to the cargo bay caused the chamber to malfunction. However, it’s also possible there was an error in the construction.”
Feeling like she was about to lose her space legs from the theta radiation, Treylana took a seat next to Phil, leaned in, eyed him with an almost defeated look on her face and whispered, “I don’t think that chamber would have been enough to contain what I saw down there.”
She took a moment to regain her bearings. Her next few commands were going to be difficult for the less experienced Gamma shift. “All hands, red alert!” she began, “Helm, plot a course away from this planet, maximum warp but do not engage until ordered to do so.”
She looked over at the tactical station next. Perhaps it was how she was feeling, but for whatever reason, she couldn’t put a name to the female Andorian Lieutenant’s face currently occupying the seat. “Lieutenant, lock onto the epicenter of the explosion on the planet’s surface, load a full spread of the modified torpedoes and prepare to fire on my mark.”
“Ma’am? Did you say the planet’s surface?”
“Yes Lieutenant. I said the planet’s surface. Is there a problem?”
“N-n-no ma’am.”, the Lieutenant struggled to reply.
Treylana noticed the reluctance in the Lieutenant’s face. She couldn’t blame her for being hesitant to fire on a planet, inhabited or otherwise. “If you’re unwilling to do it Lieutenant, I can have you relieved of duty.”
The Andorian sat there for a minute staring blankly at her console, unsure of how she was going to proceed. Would she follow her captain’s orders and fire on the planet even if it seemed overkill or would she disobey a direct order and risk whatever consequences came about?
Treylana didn’t have the time to sit around and wait for the Lieutenant to sort out her moral conflicts in the matter. “Stand aside Lieutenant.” she said as she stood up to go and take over the tactical station.
She armed and proceeded to load the torpedoes into the tubes and locked on to the coordinates of the chamber. “Helm, as soon as the torpedoes are away, engage engines.”
“Firing!” she announced as soon as the console indicated the tubes were ready to launch.
A full spread of five high yield torpedoes catapulted out from the forward launchers. As soon as they were clear, Atlantia rotated to an escape vector and vaulted into warp drive. They were unable to see first hand, but the operations officer reported that sensors were able to confirm that successful detonation had occurred and that a massive shockwave was rapidly approaching.
Within seconds, the ship was rocked by the shockwave. Their outward trajectory from the explosion helped to dissipate the severity of the impact. Once it had passed, Treylana ordered the ship to a full stop so that they could assess the damage and then pulled up long range sensors. She scanned the system. The M class planet that was once there, was a mere fraction of what it had been moments ago. Approximately twenty-seven percent of the planet had been blown away. The good news was that Omega was no longer registering on sensors. The threat had been contained.
“Stand down red alert. Commander, have all decks report in as soon as possible and then get some rest. It’s been a long day.” Treylana ordered.
Treylana relieved herself from the tactical station and permitted the Andorian to resume her duties. As the Andorian sat down, she placed a hand on her shoulder and smiled, then proceeded to her ready room.
As soon as the doors to her ready room closed behind her, she ordered the replicator to produce a mug of raktajino. In her current condition it was the last thing she needed, but at the very least she had a log entry to file to put the Omega business behind her.
She took her hot mug of coffee from the replicator and sat down at her desk. “Begin encrypted log entry.” she instructed.
“Captain’s log, stardate 76427.05. This will be my final encrypted log regarding Omega. We arrived at the source of the molecules to find a planet completely devoid of life. The planet was once home to a highly advanced civilization. We don’t know their reasons for experimenting with such a dangerous substance, however during our attempt to transport the molecules into the resonance chamber, we were able to successfully download their databases for further study.
“The attempt to transport the molecules into the resonance chamber failed. Lieutenant Commander Petrov reports that there was an issue with the chamber but cannot explain the reason. As a result, we had to use the modified torpedoes on the planet itself, an action that was both catastrophic, but successful in neutralizing Omega.
“I have to give special credit to my crew during this mission. While the limits of their trust in me was severely tested, they displayed a great amount of resolve when it came to following my orders. I can only hope that a situation such as this never occurs again, but if it does, I have full confidence that my crew will perform just as well, if not better than they did today.”