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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 Three =/\= Away Team

First Officer's Log, Stardate 49174.5. The Avenger is in orbit around Proxima Tanis Theta, the location of what was Proxima One Research Station. Sickbay is full of the survivors of the station mishap, none of whom are in any state to talk yet. The Captain has led an away team to the barren surface of the planetoid searching the debris for some clues to the disaster.

The ruins of the space station lay strewn across the landscape of the barren planetoid, the discarded aftermath of a particularly acrimonious game of Jenga.

Ahmad and Searochd scanned the lab modules with their tricorders, while Cairns investigated the remains of the command decks..

"That explosion did not destroy the station completely." Ahmad commented, upon seeing the twisted remains of the various decks.

"No, Sir, it looks as though only the generator portion of the station exploded, and the bulk of the station fell slowly under the planetoid's weak gravitational pull, therefore most of the various deck modules would have survived the light impact." Searochd said, checking his tricorder.

"Captain, Searochd," Cairns' voice sounded rather ominous over the speaker.

"What is it, Cairns?"

"I think you better get over here and see this, Sir."

They made their way to where Cairns stood, and saw several deck modules, apparently intact; and a few were dimly lit.

"There are life signs here, Sir," said Searochd, sounding as astonished as it was possible for a true Vulcan to be.

"But that's imp..." Ahmad broke off as he saw Searochd fall to the ground, writhing and clutching at his head, as if in agony. He became aware of a tingling sensation of pressure at various points around his skull. "Transporter Room, beam us out of here, fast!"

------------------------------------------------------------------------

As they materialised on the transporter pad, Searochd hung limply, supported by Ahmad and Cairns.

"Let's get him to sickbay."

By the time they reached sickbay Searochd had regained consciousness, but Ahmad lifted him onto a vacant bed. Qnayf approached them brandishing her medical scanner.

"What the hell happened to you, Searochd?"

The young Vulcan lieutenant seemed rather uncertain, "Intense pain in my ears ... as if caused by high frequency sound, and the same sort of sensation in my head."

"First time?"

"Yes, Doctor Qnayf"

"Stay here, I want to keep you under observation. Going somewhere, Captain?", Qnayf demanded as Ahmad and Cairns turned to leave sickbay.

"I am going to the bridge. I feel okay!"

"I'm fine too," retorted Cairns, "and I've got a lot of work to do. I've got phasers to polish and grunts to shout at!"

"Not until I've cleared you both," the tiny Klingon doctor said, stepping in front of them and gazing up at them. "What happened to Searochd could happen to you, and if you're on duty when it happens it could be nasty!" She headed over to one of the other patients in the crowded sickbay.

"Not as nasty as staying here!" Cairns muttered under his breath.

Ahmad almost smiled at his remark.

He stepped towards Qnayf.

"Doctor Qnayf, how are they?" he asked, indicating the station personnel.

Qnayf shook her head slowly. "There doesn't seem to be anything I can do, many people will never regain consciousness, the neural damage is too severe. The Vulcan and Betazoid crewmembers died instantly along with other highly psionic species, there are mainly humans here, along with two Andorians, but most of them are little more than vegetables."

"This does not help. I need somebody who can talk, someone who could tell me what happened down there."

"Not much chance of that here, Captain. For what it's worth, there were no Klingons on the crew roster."

"We have to send an away team down again, there may be records intact, and we may yet find an answer to this mystery, Neil."

"I'll get some science personnel together, Sir. By the way, how is Searochd?"

"Lieutenant Searochd seems fine now. I believe that what we suffered was some form of psychic attack - he has quite a high Psi Rating - even for a Vulcan. I felt a something as well - a kind of tingling pressure - but not as bad as him. That's probably why neither Cairns nor myself were affected as severely - we're not sensitive enough."

"I'll get a science team together and head down to the surface."

Meechan headed for the turbolift, tapping his combadge as he did so. "Lieutenant Roberts, Lieutenant Tovarishch, Ensign Woods, meet me in Transporter Room Three, environmental suits required." He left the bridge.

"Engineering transfer to Bridge", Blair said as he entered the bridge. "Look at this, Captain."

Ahmad went over to the engineering console, and saw the diagram of the research station.

"The only conclusion I can draw is a condition not unlike metal fatigue!"

"Metal fatigue?"

"See this?" Nick played the controls, and zoomed into the diagram. "Crystallisation formed in the structure of the metal - in this case tritanium; this can cause stress patterns to build up beyond the structural strength of the metal. Tritanium normally has varying crystal sizes to deter uniformity..."

"...The heterogeneous structure conferring greater strength than uniform crystal structure."

"That's right, Sir, but this effect was not uniform throughout the generator decks, it originated on the central generator deck, around the cylinder, as if a beam was constantly focused upon it, while it rotated. This is where the crystallisation occurred, and this is where the weak spot formed, and when the tritanium gave way, the matter/antimatter reaction chamber began to leak, causing the explosion.

That explosion itself was not powerful enough to destroy the station, but it ripped the shielding and the reaction caused it to fall from its orbit. There was no sign of physical or chemical agents among the debris, except for the unusual crystallisation of the metal."

"So it wasn't an accident after all...this was caused by a hostile agent. Any idea where the beam could have came from? And what about the second explosion?"

"Well, Sir, the second question's easy. That explosion was a result of partial containment field collapse. In this particular instance the matter and antimatter was somehow jettisoned and exploded some distant from the station itself. The actual decks and lab survived intact while the matter and antimatter annihilated itself at a safe distance. As for a beam, well..." he shrugged regretfully "Could be anywhere, Sir, I'd have to see this kind of thing happen somewhere else, to give me a line I could trace to the source. At the moment it's narrowed to one two-dimensional plane, but its azimuth could be anywhere."

"Thank you, Nick." Ahmad said, as he went back to his chair, "This puts matters in a whole new light."

The landing party beamed down in the centre of a crater and slowly walked over to the remains of the lab and began their search. Meechan led the way through the scattered modules.

"Woods, Tovarishch, check out the science lab modules on Deck Thirteen, or what's left of them. Roberts, you're with me!"

The landing party split up and went in two different directions. Campbell Woods and Stefan Tovarishch headed for the crater rim, while Cara Roberts followed Meechan as they searched the debris scattered inside the crater.

"Sir, what are we looking for?" Roberts asked, as they entered the broken dome of the research station.

"We're entering the Command Centre of the station. Any clues to what they were up to should be here, if we can access the computers."

"What if we can't?"

"Be positive, Lieutenant. I'm sure we'll find something! Try and access data from the bridge computers and see if there's anything there."

"Aye, Sir," Roberts said, setting up an interface on her tricorder.

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