Chapter 20 - Failed Signal Lock
“Is there any way of expanding the scan?” he asked, although from the sounds of it, it seemed doubtful.
“I don’t see how it’s possible with the system as it’s installed now. Maybe if we developed and installed some additional lensing in a scattered array, but the quantum lens as installed is designed for the geometric tunneling of the ship.” Lt jg Xarbe shrugged one shoulder slightly. “We can track whatever we turn to detect with it if we use it like a flashlight. But it’s going to be obvious we’re shining it around. What I can do is generate a vector from the brief pass-by that we did detect.”
PADD in one hand, Evan tapped a command into the desk terminal and compared the two sets of readings. There were no significant disparities between them. There were barely even insignificant disparities. No discernible tachyon emissions or particle disruptions, no gravitational anomalies, no micro-subspace abrasions. A typically high-calibre cloaking field. Without the results from array, the Romulan ship would never have been detected. Davies-Muir and her team had done well.
Desiring access to multiple terminals and unwilling to dispossess one of the junior bridge staff of theirs, Evan had moved his investigations to his Ready Room in the hopes of figuring out a way of closing the gap between the technology they had and the outcome they wanted to achieve. The best approach he’d come up with involved applying the science behind the anti-QSD weapon the Gorn had used against them to a series of diffraction fields, but the resultant beam would be incredibly diffuse. It would be like shouting “Echo” into a small room and hoping to hear where a chair was. A chair that really, really wanted to stay hidden. Perhaps the array could be attenuated …
He let the PADD rest on his desk and looked out the window. The Romulan ship was cloaked, so unless their sensors had advanced immensely in the past few years, then they weren’t looking anywhere other than at the planet below. Had they already scanned the system and deemed there was nothing of interest there? If so, then the Hiroshima’s own scans might be fruitless and resources that could be directed towards the surface were being wasted.
A voice broke through his musings. “Captain, we’re receiving an emergency communication from the planet. The away team’s come under attack.”
“I’m on my way.” Scans and theories momentarily forgotten, Evan hurried out to the bridge. “Report.”
“Commander Mez and her team have been attacked by some kind of drones,” the officer at Tactical said. “They’re still under fire.”
“Lots of new energy signatures appearing in their vicinity,” Lt. Xarbe added from Operations. “They appear to be vectoring in on them.”
“Can we beam them up?”
“No, sir. There’s still too much interference for a return signal lock.”
But not to prevent anyone from beaming down, if Evan remembered Briar’s analysis right. “Transport a Security team to their and ready a second shuttle to evacuate them,” he ordered. All of that would take time, though. “Helm, put us into lower orbit. Let’s see if that helps with the signal lock.”
The helm officer obliged. On the main viewer, the limb of the planet swelled as the Hiroshima closed. It would be a good time for a cloaked ship to take advantage of the gravitationally slowed Starfleet vessel, Evan knew, but there wasn’t anything else for it.
“We’re nearly skirting the atmosphere,” the officer reported.
No Romulans appeared. “Transporters?”
“Interference has deepened,” Xarbe said, surprised. “I’m barely getting anything from the away team’s location now. The Security team won’t be able to beam down.”
Damn. “Divert them to the shuttlebay,” Evan said. “They’ll go in with the evacuation shuttle.” Instead of seconds, now it would take minutes for help to reach Mez and the others. Could they hold out for that long?
Capt. Evan Yearling