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Proximity Alert

Introduction The Station Puzzles Away Team
The Thing Bug Hunt Deep Space Nine The Second Attack
Infirmary Hunger Awake!  

Chapter Two | Puzzles

"Channel open, Captain."

Ahmad sat back in his chair in the ready room, watching the face of Admiral Stewart McNair appear on screen.

"You have something to tell me, Captain Ahmad?"

"Affirmative, Admiral. Proxima One was destroyed - we managed to rescue fifty-six people, however we were unable to save the station."

"Do you think it could have been caused deliberately?"

"I am uncertain since I do not have all the facts. The casualties suffered extreme neural damage from a peculiar radiation with unknown phase patterns, which acted upon the central nervous system with almost surgical precision."

"That seems to be a bit too neat. It's either a weapon or it's something that the crew was working on. I'll get on to Tech Division about this. Maybe Admiral Hickenbotham has some inkling into this matter. I'll call you back when I have any more info."

"Understood, Admiral. Ahmad out." The screen went blank.

Curiouser and curiouser. Here was something big that not even Admiral McNair seemed to know much about or, more likely, knew something but was not saying.

"Computer, list research abstracts pertaining to Research Station One Proxima Tanis Theta."

"Working...fourteen research abstracts have been conducted at Research Station One Proxima Tanis Theta since Stardate 47723.4. Seven projects are still under classification, therefore information is not available. The remaining seven projects are as follows: Collapsar Observation and Classification; Eighth Generation Artificial Intelligence; "Gravo-Magnetic Portable Harness; Long Range Transporter; Mutatogenic Grain Enhancement; Neuro-Psionic Computer Interface. This completes the list of research abstracts at Research Station One Proxima Tanis Theta as of Stardate 49174.4"

Fascinating, thought Ahmad. Many projects had no business being on a station way out here, things like Grain Enhancement, for instance. What could one possibly learn by growing super-wheat on a space station on the very edge of the Federation. It had to be a smoke screen!

"Computer, call up the stats for the Proxima station."

"Working...Regula Class Research Station. Diameter: two hundred metres, Length: two hundred fifteen metres. Total crew: one hundred fifty personnel. Total shuttlecraft: two. Weaponry: two missile weapon turrets with photon torpedo systems. In service by..."

"Wait. Photorp turrets? On a Science Station?"

"Affirmative."

"Cancel stats." He went to the bridge and took his place in the centre seat.

"Helm, place us back in standard orbit around Proxima Tanis Theta. Ops, run a sensor scan round the impact point." He looked at Neil. "An object that big couldn't break up completely, especially on an airless planetoid. There should be a few deck modules that survived intact."

"That's right, but what're you hoping to find?"

"A clue of some kind, amongst all that debris, in the memory logs perhaps." He stood up and walked over to the main viewer.

"Captain, there seems to be an energy source at the impact point."

"On screen, zoom in as far as you can!"

The stars gave way to a barren vista of the airless relief of Proxima Tanis Theta. There, in the centre of the screen, lay the remains of the spacelab. It lay sprawled across a crater, with the upper conical section in the centre of the crater. The shuttle deck was a mangled twisted heap and the lab modules lay scattered about chaotically.

"I'll set up an away team then, shall I?"

"No, Neil, I want to go on this one."

Neil looked at him, "Captain?"

Ahmad tapped his com-badge. "Mr Cairns, Mr Searochd, suit up and meet me in Transporter Room Three, please." He headed for the turbolift. "You have the bridge, Number One."

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