Chapter 7 - Missing Briefing

ON: Observation Lounge


The doors parting, Evan strode into the spacious room and took his seat at the head of the long table, facing the assembled senior officers. “Roughly two hours ago, a Federation listening post at the edge of our space picked up a distress call from the USS Lorrenz, a deep space survey vessel.” He tapped a symbol on the dark surface and the screen on the wall to his left lit up with message data and a ship’s registry. A moment later, a female voice sounded, barely audible over static and the sonorous tones of a ship’s computer intoning the time until self-destruct.


=^= … to any vessel that can hear us. We must scuttle our ship — no other choice but to risk the planet’s surface and hope to avoid — =^=


When the recording finished, Evan said, “That was the Lorrenz’s First Officer, Lieutenant Hanzaria.” Evan tapped another symbol, changing the screen to display a distant region of space. “The Lorrenz’s last known location was in orbit above a planet in sector 37890, several thousand light years away on the other side of Romulan territory. Unfortunately, because of the distances involved, it took twelve days for their distress signal to reach us.”


It took a split second or so for Jenny Hanmore to realize that she hadn’t reacted to the replay. The sounds of the stricken ship, so very similar to the Hiroshima’s death throes, had not elevated her pulse rate, or reminded her that there might have still been infiltrators all around her. It simply was a thing, happening far from where they were… Nevertheless, she felt compelled to ask, “And we’re sure this isn’t a trap?” After all, the Romulans were compelled to assist ships in distress, and were far closer.


“No, we’re not, so we’ll take all necessary precautions,” Evan said. It stood to reason that, in light of the distances involved, a QSD-capable ship would be dispatched. A prize like that would be worth the risks posed by such a ruse. Hell, the Gorn had nearly pre-empted a war with the Federation to seize the Hiroshima. A Romulan entity, breakaway faction or not, wouldn’t fear the political backlash.


“According to the Lorrenz’s recent reports, they’d discovered biotech in the ruins of a deserted planet,” he continued. “Advanced nanotech, specifically, of a type we’re not familiar with. They were going to investigate.”


“Uknown technology is always a large danger when investigating. What was the world the Enterprise D had to run into, the one that was a weapon’s world?” Merin inquired.


Minos? The name came to Steffi Davies-Muir’s mind, but she didn’t inject. For starters, she wasn’t sure that was what the Exec meant, but there was a slight bit more to it. It really wasn’t in her swim lane, and she was loth to come across as a busy-body know-it-all. As it happened, her reticence was rewarded, for she’d avoided talking over the Captain.


“Let’s hope they haven’t found a world like that, but we may have another problem. The distress signal passed through a spur of Romulan space less than two days after it was sent, but when we requested permission to pass through that area to get to the Lorrenz, we hit a brick wall. Starfleet suspects they’re delaying our rescue attempt deliberately for some reason.” He sat back in his chair. “We might already be too late.”


That was an understatement, Jenny realized. If the emergency were bona fide, then they were most certainly too late to do much of anything. Regardless, she couldn’t sit on her hands. “In response to an emergency, we don’t require permission. Besides, how is it that whomever is routing us out there had time for a little diplomatic tête-à-tête before calling it in? It doesn’t pass the smell test, sir.”


“The tête-à-tête is only getting started,” Evan said. “Initial contacts were between Starfleet Command and their counterparts in the Romulan Free State, but we’re not sure if they control that area of space any more or if another Romulan faction does. Either way, the Free State are acting with considerably less alacrity than we might hope for.” He looked around the table. “Given that going around only adds two hours onto our travel time, Command doesn’t want us crossing into potentially hostile Romulan space and risking an incident, not when the distress call’s already nearly two weeks old. If the situation changes, we’ll be advised while en route, although we shouldn’t hold our breath.”


Savren had been leaning back into his chair watching, thinking. He suddenly leaned forward, antenna alert. “We must assume it is a trap twice over, yes? Whatever caused the crew of the USS Lorrenz to to destroy their ship is still out there and the Romulans wanting said thing will also be there. The Romulans like to believe Starfleet is naive, should we not play to that and ride in as rescuing angels? Let them think we only want to save our compatriots and they are more likely to underestimate us and make mistakes.”


Whether or not it was a trap, or not, was much less Adrianna’s concern. Two weeks on a foreign planet was a long time. Given that it was a planned scuttle, albeit a hurried one from the sound of things, they probably had time to gather the necessary supplies. Without their knowing exactly how long they’d be stranded could be an issue, though. She hoped they had enough power for the portable replicators.

“Why are we assuming hostile intent on the Romulans’ part? Do we have reason to believe they’d harm the Lorrenz crew?” She leaned forward and met the eyes of the other officers around the table. “For all we know, by now, the crew is safe and sound in a luxury hotel on the nearest Romulan-controlled world.” Notwithstanding the fact that we should’ve heard from them by now if that were the case, but xenopolitics were something she didn’t usually bother following. She’d leave that to the red-shouldered types, just like they left the blue-shouldered stuff to her.

Jenny thought the answer was obvious: because they were Romulans. Apparently, the Doctor hadn’t read the logs on Hiroshima’s most recent run-in with the Federation’s bad neighbors of the Vulcanoid persuasion.

“I hope they are safe,” Evan said. “And Doctor Darney’s right. Although the Romulans’ reluctance to assist is being taken as an indication that they have some interest in what happened to the Lorrenz, we won’t assume that they played a part in its loss. This is a rescue mission, and we’ll proceed in that way.” To the point raised by Cielj, who was deputising at this meeting for his department head, he added, “We will be the rescuing angels, but we also need to discover what happened to the Lorrenz.”

“If I may, Captain,” LTJG Davies-Muir began. “An indirect path, as it happens, is helpful. Quantum slipstream is, t’ put it bluntly, too fast t’ be intercepted in transit.” To be sure, they would still need to contend with in-system hazards, but that would be true nevertheless. If for no other reason, that alone explained why other powers wanted a means to disable the system.

“Regardless, Medical will be ready.” Adrianna hoped it was more a case of nutritive, hydration and/or exposure support rather than any services the morgue could provide, but that’d remain to be seen. “Do we know anything about the planet they retreated to?”

“Our information primarily comes from their own reports,” Evan said. “Class M, apparently once inhabited by a spacefaring race in a small number of cities that have now gone to ruin. It may have been a colony world.” He regarded Briar. “Commander Elin has previous experience in the region, but not of the system in question. With her knowledge, we’ll be inquiring of the few races she encountered out there to see if they know more about the planet and the system it’s in.”

Briar, having been sitting more as a quiet observer, taking in the reactions of the rest of the staff, sat up slightly as if feeling called out for her lack of participation. Consternation crossed her face as she was uncertain she appreciated Evan mentioning her having been in the sector.  The place was officially uncharted and so the cat was out of the bag now for someone paying close enough attention to come asking her too many questions. “I have a few contacts,” she said carefully, “but no idea if they’ll respond.” Briar glossed over the details as she tried to control expectations.


“Commander Mez,” Evan said, turning to his XO. “I know that the Lorrenz was a dedicated surveyor and we’re short-handed in Science right now, but we’ll need the department to go through everything in the Lorrenz’s reports. If something they found caused this disaster, I’d like an indication of what it might be before we get there.”


That meant a great deal would fall on her given that she had no officers. “I’ll divide up the information. I might borrow some personnel from other departments depending on what they have gathered,” she said aloud.


Jenny tried not to sink too far into her seat, as she had little to offer the scientific types, and even less desire to be selected to do so.


“I can help, my bioscience credentials are up to date,” says Savren. “I have some talent at organizing things, naturally science will take lead, but I would be happy to assist with data sorting and report writing.”

“Sounds good, you’ll work with MCPO Little Bear on that,” Merin replied.


“We’ll reconvene in eight hours’ time and go over everything we’ve learned,” Evan said. “Dismissed.”



JP by:


Ens. Savren Cielj



LTJG Genevieve Hanmore (and Davies-Muir)


Lt. Commander Adrianna Darney


USS Hiroshima-B


Lt Cmdr Briar Elin, Chief of Operations


Lt. Cmdr. Merin Mez



Capt. Evan Yearling

Commanding Officer

USS Hiroshima-B