Previous Next


Posted on Thu Jan 21st, 2021 @ 12:50am by Captain Rhenora Kaylen & Commander Savar cha'Salik hei-Surak Talek-sen-deen

Mission: The Jungle
Location: Beta Quadrant

The bridge was a quiet hive of concentrated activity. The crew working away as the Liberty cruised through the deeper regions of the Beta quadrant, away from the well known shipping routes. Many ships had been this way before - it was a known region, but a road less travelled as it were. The Liberty was on its way to study a series of stellar phenomena where new insight into the birth of quasars and neutron stars was hoped to be gleaned. In all things a fairly typical run of the mill type of mission.

"Another day in the office" Rhenora breathed with content, happy to be on the bridge and watching the crew work around her. There was some happy chatter as the crew got their teeth into the new mission. Astrophysics were beyond excited and many other departments were assisting with the preperations.

"Indeed Captain." Savar replied from the XO's chair. "This mapping mission should yield new data on quasars and neutron stars along with any other information we may acquire such local species that inhabit are area."

" I'm looking forward to doing some exploring - you know that thing we all signed up for? Strange new worlds and all the rest?" She chuckled at the age old adage "Perhaps I should write recruitment advertisements for the Academy" She pulled up a star chart of their plotted course and transferred the data to the main viewscreen. " We do need to be careful around this region though, there are some 'No Go's there, along with the bones of the USS Manchester. " She pointed to a specific region of space that was hatched red indicating it's problematic status within the Federation star charts. Red Zones were to be avoided at all costs.

"I believe you should Captain." Savar answered, "Join Starfleet, See the Universe. Meet Noxious smelling aliens." Savar joined in the bantering but grew quiet at the mention of the Manchester, a light cruiser lost with all hands. No one had been able to determine what had happened to the ship and the crew. "Agreed." Savar answered looking at the Red Zone, it encompassed a wide expanse of space and dozens of planets. All unknown to the Federation.

" So the Manchester's last known location was around this system, perhaps we should conduct a few cursory scans of that system as we pass - it should be safe enough for long range sensors and shouldn't put us in the red zone" Rhenora mused, always wanting to solve a mystery.

"Yes." Savar said looking at a star chart he had pulled up on his console. "There are several planets within the nearest boundary of the Red Zone we will come close to." He observed. "It would be most satisfying to solve the mystery of her disappearance as well as her crew. Give closure to the mystery."

"10 years on, those poor families not knowing what happened to their loved ones. One of the few mysteries Starfleet couldn't solve. One minute she was there, the next gone." Rhenora mused, the thought causing her to shiver. Several hostile species were known to have territory within the red zone - the Manchester could have fallen victim to any number of them and Starfleet not been willing to risk any more ships in case the same thing happened. "The USS Hawkesbury ventured into the region a short time later to look for the Manchester but were attacked and had to flee. Hence the Red Zone" The Captain recalled. "Not somewhere we want to end up"

" Nine years, eight months and seventeen days If I recall correctly, the Manchester was on a mapping mission similar to the one we are undertaking. In addition according to the last logs Command received from the ship, there was no indication of anything being amiss. It is has you said Captain, here one moment gone in the next. Which leads to the question who could have accomplished such a task."

" Who and most importantly why." Rhenora mused, marvelling at the Vulcan's accuracy. She looked at the starchart again, making a promise to get as close as they could without endangering themselves. There was some information on the planets within the Red Zone, along with general information about the species that resided there. Small groups had banded together in 'protection' of their systems and proved a formidable force. They were mostly xenophobes it appeared, forcibly repelling any that ventured too close.

"You knew the Manchester Captain did you not? Captain Haldeman." Savar asked quietly. Knowing this was personal for Rhenora. A friend had disappeared, a good friend and she wanted to know what had happened to him and his ship and crew. He also knew of her fierce devotion to her crew and would not jeopardize them by straying too close to the Red Zone.

" I did indeed, he was a good man and a damned good Captain. He would never have risked his crew without cause" Rhenora said quietly, making it known to her XO that yes, it was personal.

Savar nodded at Rhenora's reply. He caught the undercurrent of anger in it. It was one thing to die for a noble and just cause, It was something else entirely to disappear and not know the reason beyond said disappearance. So he understood this was personal for Rhenora.

" We'll do what we can to find them, they deserve answers" Rhenora said more to herself than anyone else. The rules of the Red Zone were clear and she would obey them without question. " I'm sure the quasars can wait a few hours"

Savar had served as Rhenora's XO long enough to know what she was planning. "Mr. Churchill, please recalibrate the sensors to maximum efficiency." He said quietly then looked over to Rhenora, "It is the only way to get definitive answers."

"Yessir" Churchill replied with the utmost professionalism, sectioning off a portion of the main viewscreen and bringing up a long range scan.
Rhenora smiled, thankful that Savar knew her well enough to know what she was planning. "Helm, keep us in the Green zone but get us close"

"Yes Ma'am" the helmsman replied, along the necessary course corrections.

Savar studied the scans as they came back to the Liberty, all showed nothing amiss, nothing out of the ordinary then he noticed something. "Captain, the fifth planet shows quantities of metal dispersed over a large area of land." He said quietly.

" Can you discern the type of metal?" Rhenora's heart sank, her gut telling her this was the Manchester however they couldn't get close enough to make a positive identification nor could they search for the remains of their comrads. So close, so damned close.

"I shall attempt to so Captain but at this range it makes the analysis difficult." Savar answered as he fined tuned the sensors even more in an attempt to get the answers the Captain so desperately wanted. Seconds turned into minutes and the minutes dragged until Savar straightened and looked over to her. "Based on the sensor scan of the largest piece of metal, it is the Manchester." He paused and then added softly. "I grieve with thee Captain for the loss of your friend and his crew."

Rhenora hung her head for a few moments, closing her eyes and whispering a quiet prayer for the fallen. When she lifted her chin again it was with conviction.
" I'll notify Starfleet, at least we can give them a location. Helm - all stop. We'll conduct an analysis from this location and see what kind of answers we can get."

"Very well Captain. I too shall attempt to get a more accurate analysis of the metal in an effort to discover how the ship ended up on the planet's surface." Savar answered. As he went back to work. After a few minutes, he glanced at Rhenora, "Captain we are being scanned by immensely powerful sensors."

"Red Alert, shields up. Helm move us away" Rhenora's gut clenched at the thought of them possibly ending up like the Manchester. They had too few details to draw comparison yet but she would be irresponsible if she let the same thing happen to the Liberty.

The bridge changed hue from a warm white light to darkened with red lighting - allowing the crew to more intently focus on their tasks by eliminating distractions. The energy on the bridge shifted from curiosity to self preservation.

The ship suddenly shook violently. Lights flickered but remained on. Alarms sounded but were quickly quieted by crew. "Probes are increasing in intensity." Savar stated needlessly as he struggled to stay in his seat.

" Helm is unresponsive" " Shields at 50 percent" "Weapons offline"
Status reports were fired off around the bridge as the Liberty struggled to hold her place. Something was interfering with her control systems and wreaking havoc.

As the crew struggled to regain control, it was slowly becoming apparent that it was a losing battle. Systems were failing all over the ship in a cascade effect. The Liberty was losing it's fight for survival.

History it seemed was repeating. Despite hard evidence Rhenora knew this was what brought the Manchester down, and whatever it was was trying hard to bring the Liberty down as well.

" Manual helm control, full reverse thrust. Break us free!" Rhenora shouted as EPS conduits started to rupture , sending smoke and steam spewing onto the bridge.

"She' isn't responding Captain!" The helm officer replied as more conduits blew out and structural groans could be heard on the bridge. The Liberty was coming apart.

A tractor beam emerged from the planet where the Manchester went down, enveloping the struggling Liberty with a blue glow and dragging her towards the planet.

" Deflector control not responding, weapons are failing" The news coming from the stations around the bridge wasn't encouraging.

"Whatever it takes, break us free" Rhenora ordered, struggling to come up with an option against what appeared to be a futile situation.

The struggle continued but the Liberty's power reserves were rapidly becoming depleted in the struggle to stay aloft. "Captain." Savar spoke from her side, "We do not have the power to break free and without weapons, we cannot destroy the source of the tractor beam."

" I will not let this ship end up like the Manchester" Rhenora swore, feeling as though the Liberty were a bucking bronco fighting tooth and nail against being roped. There was a point where if they continued to struggle the ship would tear itself apart.

Savor spoke to his friend and Captain. "I understand your argument and desire to save the ship Captain. However the Liberty is tea....." His voice trailed off as suddenly he was gone! Vanished from the bridge.

""Commander!" The Captain's shout of alarm momentarily paused every member of the bridge crew until one by one they began to vanished, beamed from their very stations as they worked. Soon there was only Rhenora left until she too vanished.


One moment Savar was the Liberty bridge the next he was... here only he didn't know where here was. He was in a cell, his communicator was gone as was his jacket. He had his boots and pants and a t-shirt. Also his hands were bound behind him with some sort of sturdy rope or hemp. It resisted all his attempts to break it. He hoped Rhenora and the others were spared but doubted it. The unknown abductors would want a starship captain and it's senior officers.

One by one those that were on the bridge plus several other key staff were beamed into Savar's cell and several others like it. Anything of use was stripped off them and their hands bound. Several people occupied a cell and the conditions rapidly became cramped. Where was the rest of the crew though?

"Captain. I am gratified to see you though not under these conditions." Savar spoke. "Our hosts have not yet shown themselves."

"Apart from taking our jackets, communicators and tying us up" Rhenora grumbled, pissed off at herself for letting her ship and crew get captured. Who knew if the Liberty actually survived or if it was torn apart after they were beamed off. She wrestled her hands in their bonds, succeeding only in making her wrists sore. " I guess we should be grateful we're in one piece - more or less"

"We have our wits." Savar mentioned, "Now we must observe and gather clues that will help us escape our current predicament." He looked around the cell, "Unfortunately I do not see a knife."

" Neither do I, but we must make the most of any opportunity" Rhenora added, looking around their cell carefully. Booted footfalls echoed along the corridor, the heel strikes of confidence ringing off the walls. Rhenora stopped and looked towards the direction of the sound.

He walked with confidence. The years here had not robbed him of that or the charisma he possesses. His hair is long, stopping just above his shoulders with some grey at the temples. He has a scruffy beard. His back is straight and still strong. His cobalt blue eyes are alive with intelligence. He glanced at the cells with casual indifference before stopping in front of Rhenora's and Savar's. His eyes shown even brighter as he recognized her. "Rhenora?" Captain Thomas Haldeman asked.

She knew that voice, she knew those eyes, the walk was more arrogant, more self assured than she remembered. He was supposed to be dead - scattered with the remains of his ship on the planet they were now held captive on.

"You're dead" She whispered, trying to wrap her head around the fact he was very much still alive.

He smiled, showing perfect teeth. "Yet here I stand before you. What's it been? Ten years since I last saw you. I was leaving on the Manchester."

"You were, we found the wreckage of your ship. How did you survive?" Rhenora's voice was almost haunted, as though she were speaking to a ghost.

"We were attacked, our weapons, shields useless. Dead in space. Couldn't run" He spoke in a monotone, no emotion at all. "We were beamed off the ship, like you were." He continued " and placed in 'The Game.' Just like you and your officers will be." He looked down and then back straight into her eyes. "I survived and saved my crew. Most are still alive."

" So why are you on that side of the force field?" Kaylen replied, not liking at all where this was going. The good news was most of the Manchester's crew survived, but what if the captives became the captors?

"Because I survived The Game. You were quicker than this." He replied almost absently. "Because I won I am afforded a certain status. I'm what you would call a game master. My crew is alive but not as fortunate they live as servants. If you or any of your officers survive, your crew will live and mine will die."

The words were as effective as a punch to the gut, forcing the air out of Rhenora's body. She felt queasy for a moment before shoving the emotion to the part of her mind she kept for such occasions. She would find a way to survive, and save her crew, and save his as well. " We will survive this 'Game'. Failure is not an option."

"Time will tell. However I commend your spirit Rhenora and I do wish you luck. You are going to need it." Haldeman looked at her, there was something he clearly wanted to say to her. He looked up and down the corridor and seeing no one he spoke lowly, urgently." You should know your ship is still where it was when you were beamed off it. It is too large to bring down to the surface."

Savar had remained silent throughout the conversation between Rhenora and Haldeman. However that did not mean he was idle. He was busy observing the Manchester captain. He could see the charisma and magnetic personality of the man. He also sensed a troubled spirit torn by loyalty for his crew and having to put another crew through the same ordeal he had gone through and survived. Perhaps that could be used to save both crews.


Previous Next