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The Search Begins

Posted on 07 Jun 2020 @ 2:30pm by Captain Martin Collins & Commander Roscoe Mayhew & Petty Officer, 2nd Class Harlow Harcrow & Petty Officer, 2nd Class Alanna Morrison & Able Crewman Morgan Ryan & Daniel Bishop

Mission: Fool's Errand
Location: Asteroid Field
Timeline: MD 3 || 1100 hours

Marty missed his chair on the Charon. Sure the chair's padding had been worn down over the decades, and the metal armrests showed plenty of signs of wear, but that chair was better than standing behind a central console. He'd wondered for a long time why the master of an Orion Interceptor didn't want to sit on his bridge, but given the cramped space, he imagined the Orion would float from station to station, double checking everyone's work. After all, what Orion didn't trust another?

Trust was all Marty had now. He had to trust his crew not just with vital information; he now had to rely on them for the remainder of this fool's errand. It would not be long before the moment of truth was before them, and they would soon know for sure if the Lexington was real...

...or a figment of someone's imagination.

His eyes looked up out the forward window. Their field of view was filled with asteroids that grew as the ship approached its destination. All he could do was stand and wait for the report.

Daniel had to ask for help to set the sensors up, a crewman was at least able to help program the Orion sensors to work properly. But he also kept an ear to the comms, that would be their best clue if something had gone right or wrong. The good news was the sensors were now programmed to find the clues as described by the Captain. The bad news was the ship's database did not have the most recent drift charts for the asteroids, making a remote scan a waste of time.

"Sensors working, Cap'n. We'll need the updated navigational charts from traffic control to get our start point. I'll supply the locations to Helm once we get where we can start looking." Daniel reported from his station.

Alanna wasn't really sure what she was doing on the bridge other than wanting to see the action. She really had no business being there the only thing she knew how to do was how to be a medic. Though with her connection to the Captain she was pretty sure she could get away with it as long as she didn't get under anyone's feet. She moved to the front corner of the bridge out the way of consoles or the view screen.

Marty raised an eyebrow and looked at Daniel. "Traffic Control? There's one of those out here for the Orions? Or would calling them alert us to our presence?"

"For the record, I recommend not doing that," Mayhew said. "Even so, weapon systems are primed. With any luck we'll be taken for just another raiding party."

"Yes, they have one. You need someone to make sure all the loot makes it to the trading posts and not into the side of a giant rock. But you don't need to call. We just need to pull the drift chart data from one of the nav buoys and that'll get us in the right direction." Daniel replied, "Otherwise our job just gets a little bit harder to find the thing."

"Can the chart be pulled without giving them our position?" Marty asked. "Or even alerting them that we're here?"

Mayhew frowned with his second thoughts. "Maybe it would make us stand out more if we didn't shake hands with their nav network. Someone might get curious and come to see what's got us flying under the radar." Though Bishop seemed like a professional asshole and traitor to the uniform, Mayhew couldn't argue with his assessment. "We run a risk either way, but I'd like to err on the side of blending in."

Harlow listened intently, though still found himself at the helm piloting the ship that they were going to end up trading for another ship. His brows were furrowed, his mind picking and puzzling over what they could do. "Hey look, if the Cap says we're going undercover, I'm sure I can wing something if it doesn't work out." He replied, if only to give him some time to think otherwise.

He had one eye on everyone else, the other on the asteroids.

Marty considered their options for a few moments. The choices were simple, and each of them could have drastic consequences. The worst consequence, if he chose to do nothing, could cost them both the mission and their lives. "Then we play by the locals' rules. Grab the star charts as quickly as possible, but let's make straight for the middle of the field. We can make adjustments as we go. Make sure the biofilters are masking our signatures as Orions as well."

"On it." Daniel replied, glad to see that people were catching on to doing a proper heist. As soon as they were within range, he requested the drift charts from the buoy. That was the easy part. The hard part now was to cross-reference them against the data compiled and setting up the scans.

"Putting together a list of candidates now, Cap'n. Biofilters are going to need adjusting but we won't stand out yet."

"Let's slow to one half impulse," Marty commanded. "That way when it's time to make an adjustment, we won't look like we're trying to make a mad dash anywhere."

Alanna would never give up her job as a medic she was passionate about it and knew her mother was proud to have her follow in those footsteps. She did have to admit that things on the bridge were pretty interesting. She had learned a lot she had no idea how ships actually did some of the things that she did. Like traffic control? Who knew. As she looked around the bridge she tried to not look too out of place not that anyone standing oddly in the front corner of the bridge could be where they belonged.

"Bringing her down to one half impulse, cap'n." Harlow quipped before turning to look at Daniel. "Oh, give me someone that looks halfway decent, will you?"

"You can probably rule out any asteroids that have profiles on the sensors," Morgan finally added to the conversation from the back of the bridge, "Even dormant any kind of tech gives off a signature to sensors and if they're really trying to hide something as large as this Constellation...? class or whatever it was, they'd actively be blocking any signals it might emit."

Marty raised an eyebrow and glanced behind him to spot the engineer. He wasn't surprised that the class hadn't stuck, but he was grateful for her contribution. "Constitution," he corrected. Then he added, "Bishop, once you get that map, work with Ryan on her suggestion. Remember, we don't have many shots to get this right before we'll be tracked."

"They're biofilters kid, not costumes. Plus there isn't much I can do for you." Daniel said, and then looked to Marty, "It's possible they might not know or they might have parked it in an asteroid that could mask the emissions naturally. But I'm no geologist so someone's going to have to step up to figure that part out. And maybe someone could fine tune the biofilters."

"That shouldn't be hard." Morgan said as she turned towards a console and pulled up the Starfleet installed filters. "Orion's sensors arent as advanced as ours if this ships systems are anything to represent them. The filters Starbase 11 installed should do the job just fine as well as they're tuned right."

The Captain allowed his gaze to linger on Bishop on Ryan for a few more moments before returning to the viewscreen. The asteroid field continued to grow, and it was apparent that there was some Orion traffic around them. "Helm, continue on our forward course. Bishop and Ryan, as soon as you have something..."

"Who you callin' ugly?" Harlow replied, snapping his response, head whipping around to look at Bishop. "How the hell should I know what these bio-filters are? I've not seen space till now-- Helm stayin' on due course, cap."

Marty left his post in the center of the command area and moved to stand behind Bishop and Ryan as they worked. He stood there for a few moments, then glanced to his left to spot Alanna just hanging out by the forward window. He felt slightly guilty still that she was here, especially with the increasing odds of failure. "Anytime, gang," he muttered quietly to Bishop and Ryan. At this point, even their best guess would be better than just flying straight ahead.

Morgan paused, distracted from the scans in front of her, "Wait... did our pilot just say he'd never seen space before?" She said as she looked over her shoulder at conn. That couldn't be a good thing could it? And she wasn't the only one who heard that right?

Her thoughts got distracted though as the console in front of her beeped. Turning back to look at it, "Uhhh Collins? Sensors are picking up traces refined deuterium inside an asteriod at mark 24.67. Its a bigggg asteriod, roughly 4km by 3km."

Marty looked over her shoulder at the asteroid. With all of the interference, he considered themselves lucky they were getting anything at all. "Let's see it," he ordered. "Anything areas that look like a recessed portion or cave?" As for her remarks about the helmsman, Marty remained silent. Harcrow was not the only person he gambled on by adding them to the crew, especially since he knew no self-respecting pilot that would have actually volunteered for this mission.

"Can't tell. Sensors aren't giving us a clear picture of the far side of the asteroid but this side is smooth looking. We'll have to get to the other side to find out for sure." Morgan said as she tried to get more details from the sensors but there just wasn't enough.

Marty frowned at the image. The asteroid's size definitely made it a worthwhile target, and the map they'd downloaded from the beacon indicated that it was in a hard to access part of the field and untouched. So far, that seemed to be their best bet. "If nothing else, it's a start. Keep searching for other possible targets. We'll need to adjust immediately if this isn't it."

The Captain then turned to Harcrow. "Helm, adjust course to Mark 24.67. Proceed at two-thirds impulse until our sensors get affected, then slow to one-third."

The conversation involving a helmsman who said he'd never been in space before was starting to concern Alanna some. She realized that this wasn't the best and brightest and that they worked on volunteers silly enough to accept a job. She knew that if anyone could lead them to success it was Uncle Marty. There was no doubt in her mind about him. As she became more curious as helm orders were given she leaned around to peak out the viewing screen placing her head just in the corner of it.

"That'll be a good start. But I'd be careful, kid. Go to visual flight if you can, rumor has it there's some patches of kelbonite in the area. If the rumors are true, then sensors are going to become nigh worthless." Daniel said, "But I don't think it's kelbonite, that stuff plays hell with transporters, not where I'd put a hiding place. Unless I liked risking life and limb docking."

"Adjusting course, mark 24.67," Harlow replied, more so just to show that he was capable of piloting and listening. He kept at a steady two-thirds, switching to rely on visual proceedings as they made their way through the field. "Kelbonite....right on."

Not that he had a clue what the Kelbonite stuff was. After a couple of moments of flying (the passage of time somewhat skewed), Harlow began slowing the interceptor down to one-thirds. "Looks like I'm picking up somethin' here."

It took the interceptor several tense minutes to dive into the asteroid field to their target. Marty kept himself busy by pacing the bridge, glancing over the shoulders of the assembled crew as they traveled. There was hardly anything for him to learn during that time, and his impatience to find something was outmatched only by his desire to not get caught.

As soon as they arrived, Marty took a position near the forward viewport as it to get a personal, up-close look at the behemoth. "Let's start scanning what we can," he told the team. "Look for caves, recessed areas, anything that could tell us whether or not the Lexington is here."

Harlow proceeded to start the surface scan, in hopes that it would be fruitful. "Lot of ground to cover...." He mused as he took a look on the scans on his control panel. "Plenty of impact craters here, guessin' from smaller rocks."

"No ordnance detected," Mayhew reported. "If the Lexington is here, it's unfortified and its weapons are long cold."

Marty frowned. "Helm, keep a nice slow orbit of the asteroid for our visual scanners. If we don't see anything in the next five minutes, we move on to our next target." Turning to face Ryan and Bishop, he asked them both, "Please tell me we have a next target."

"There are a couple asteroids around us that show similar mineral compositions. The problem I'm having is that something is interfering with getting some clear scans, but that may also have something to do with the sensors." Daniel explained, "Or they've set up something to mask the signature. If there's an opening, it may flag something on the sensors."

Alanna sighed audibly as she stood looking between the view screen and the bridge conversation.

"On it." Harcrow replied, scratching his head with a free hand. "First haystack and maybe no needle."

Five minutes came and went, and Marty was left to assume that their first target was clean. "All right," he said softly, "let's move on. Adjust heading to 112.03. Same speed."

"Making adjustments...our second target should be comin' up shortly on visual."

Marty remained quiet. There wasn't much for him to say at this point, especially since they'd arrived at the next target. It was up to the crew now to see if the Lexington was inside. For now, he approached the viewscreen, foolishly hoping that proximity would help him spot something that sensors couldn't see. Their interceptor was deeper in the asteroid field now. Their sensors would be far from effective anymore, almost as good as perfect eyesight being able to spot details on an object far away.

"There!" Marty called out, pointing a finger at the viewscreen. "That dark spot underneath the asteroid there. That looks like a recessed area. Could that be a cave?"

Morgan turned to look at the asteroid the Captain was pointing at on the screen, she frowned as she turned to look back at the scanners. No... that was odd there wasn't anything there. No it was odd it was strange, there was literally nothing at all.

"Uh... so scanners say there is nothing there." Morgan said as she tapped on the panel, "And I mean nothing. They cant find minerals, they cant find microbes, nothing. The asteroid is there but according to this its also not there...."

Marty turned to face Ryan. No expression was plastered on his face. In many senses, he'd expected the Lexington to be sitting inside something unusual. After all, it'd have to have been hiding for more than twenty years, and to last this long it would have to have some sort of help. "Helm, adjust our heading. Take us straight to that cave."

"Oh finally!" Harcrow replied, a half-smile on his face as he increased their speed by a fraction as he turned the vessel towards the cave. "Right, so this probably is some clean asteroid and we're all guessin' now that this could be some sign that this is our mysterious centurion ship?"

"Is there anything on sensors?" the Captain asked as he returned to his station. "Have we caught anyone's attention since arriving?"

Daniel looked up from the scopes, shaking his head. "I wouldn't doubt it, but I don't see anyone coming. Yet. If you're going to make a move, we better make it now. Someone has to notice we've been poking around."

"You heard the man, Mister Harcrow," Marty pressed. "Get us inside that cave. As soon as we're in, slow us to thruster power. Let's not run into anything we can't see. Miss Ryan, kill all external running lights and anything that shines. That includes cabin lights too. Let's run as silent as possible."

"Entering the cave in three...two....one..." Harlow always thought a countdown made things all the more omnious, though the grin probably would have said something else entirely.

Marty stood at his station on the dark bridge, eyes fixed on the viewscreen ahead. Its light dimmed further and further as the bright natural lighting of the asteroid field yielded to the near blackness of the cave. The naked eye could not see anything, save for a faint sheen that seemed almost artificial.

He could not get his hopes up. After all, it could be anything. They could be looking at an abandoned base, debris, or even just a smooth surface. What Marty lacked at this point was a. choice. They were here, and now they had to know.

The Captain's station did not have many controls, save for a few functions ranging from airlock control, emergency macros, and some viewscreen enhancements. He reached for a dial marked for low-light enhancement and began to turn it. Multi-colored grain filled the viewscreen, as did several contour lines. The interceptor was very close to something, and its proximity made it hard to determine any actual shapes.

Marty turned the knob further, hoping to find something more defining. Soon it became clear that the Interceptor was slowly approaching a curved structure, some sort of large hatch that was partially open. Few details could be seen inside, but it wouldn't matter whether or not those details could help with identifying the structure. Below the massive hatch were large letters, some of which defaced by means unknown, and others were perfectly legible.

LFXINCTON

"We found it..." The words came out as merely a whisper at first, but an awestruck grin broke across Mayhew's face. He looked toward Marty with celebratory fists upraised. "You brought us all the way out here, you crazy son of a bitch, and we found it!"

Daniel almost stood up, but he decided against that much. But for a moment, the mask of cynicism and being generally jaded slipped, and he grinned. It came with an unfamiliar feeling, one that said maybe there was a chance things might turn around. It was one ship, maybe, but he silenced his own doubts and actually let himself hope for a moment.

"Looks like we did, yeah..." Was all he could manage, in a voice of quiet awe.

"Holy....damn.....that's a Starship?" Harlow took a double take, his face expressing more than his intelligent words could. "I thought it would be bigger." He followed up with, unfiltered.

"So that's the pinacle Starfleet could make..." Morgan muttered to herself as the interceptor they were in drifted past the Constitution-class Starship. "It looks like it's in decent condition at least."

Tag Ryan / Morrison if you want

"Easy now," Marty cautioned. "Our work's just started. We might have found her, but now we've got to get her out of... What's..." He pointed up at the viewscreen. The interceptor had been drifting upward, and because of that, there was now a bright light to the port side of the Lexington's neck. "Looks like we weren't the first to find her either."

Harlow sighed, checking over their entry route and trying to calculate whether they could make it out if things really started hitting the fan, though seeing as they were THIS close? No way would they turn tail. Wasn't happening.

"Well, we're not going to get any closer from out here," Mayhew said. "I'm ready to board her and see how she looks from the inside. Who's with me?"

Marty grinned at Roscoe, but gave no other acknowledgment. "Take us up on top of the saucer. There should be an access port for the automated repair drones just above the starboard phaser banks. We'll use that to get inside."

"Yeah, I'm with you, cap!" Harlow grinned, bringing them to the top of the saucer.

Marty turned from the viewscreen to face the assembled team. "Mayhew. Bishop. Ryan. As soon as we dock, the three of you will come with me inside the Lexington. Hopefully once we're inside we can find out how many Orions are on the ship, and we'll go from there. Phasers for everyone. As soon as our landing site is secure, we'll bring the rest of the team aboard and leave two people behind to guard our interceptor. Understood?"

"Sir, I think I should come with you," Alanna said, wanting to be there with him when he either made his great discovery or needed her help. She of course leaned to the first thought with expectation but she couldn't deny she felt the need to protect him.

"We're just securing a boarding zone," Marty told her. 'Should only be a couple minutes. You won't be far behind."

"Okay," Alanna responded, seemingly unsatisfied.

Harlow frowned, "Ah hell, fine. Guess I'll wait with the interceptor till the coast is clear or something. Don't leave me without the good stuff."

"Don't worry," Marty said to the group before leaving the bridge. "You all will be aboard soon enough." With a final nod, he departed. Though he did his best to look confident, Marty was anything but. Finding the ship was easy enough. Now it was time to see if she could still sail.

 

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