Message in the Dark [[KEY POST]]
Timeline: 20 hours before arrival at Aldere IV
Tags: key post
Keith made his way out of his ready room, and smiled as Sebell stood and moved from the Captain's chair to her own, "You know," He said, taking his seat next to her, "The chair suits you. I could see you in charge of a ship, pretty easily," He said, with a grin.
"I'm fairly happy to be an XO. There's a lot to learn and tempering to do before I'd consider myself ready for that responsibility," Sebelll sighed. "So don't die."
"Don't die? Now you're interfering with my weekend plans," Keith teased. "Seriously, you're not chomping at the bit to command your own ship?" He asked, playfully, but genuinely interested.
"Not at all," she confessed candidly. "I want to learn as much as I can, so that one day when I am a captain, I can give my best to my crew. That only comes with seasoning."
"Yes... experience," Keith said, seeming to grow philosophical, "Like a nice garlic salt," He said, straight-faced with no hint of a joke in his voice.
Sebell blinked at Anderson as she tried to piece his choice of words together. "Seasoning, right.."
Keith bounced a finger at her, "You're just a teensy bit too Vulcan sometimes," He said, grinning at her. "Ensign Vargesson, how far out are we from our destination?" He asked the young man at the conn.
All the while, Erik was sitting at the helm, busy with astronavigation and making sure the ship didn't collide with stray spatial bodies like comets, asteroids, and other phenomena. However, he wasn't too busy with his work to be deaf to the conversation behind him. Things mentioned about commanding and cooking. Erik couldn't help but smile at the demented dialogue.
Erik pressed a couple of buttons on his console, thus bringing up the ship's current ETA to Aldere IV. "We're less than 20 hours away from the system Sir, assuming the ship can maintain maximum warp for that much longer. Although I gotta hand it our engineers, they're really keeping the Asger together alright, even with me pushing the limits of the warp core."
"Chief Haught is doing good work down there," Keith said with a grin, then turned his attention back to Sebell, "That'll put as there just an hour or so into Alpha shift tomorrow, so that's perfect timing, huh? Get a good night's sleep and then onto this mess," He said with a playful gin to his XO.
Sebell gave the captain an odd look. "Keep a positive outlook, sir. We don't know that it's a mess yet."
"Figurative, Commander. It may not be a mess to us, but it's a mess to the people on Aldere IV. Don't forget that. You've got to keep yourself in the other folk's shoes," He said with a grin. "So I like to assume that everything is on fire, even if it's not," He explained.
"Ah," nodding her head, Sebell frowned. "Noted. Expect the wort and hopefully be pleasantly surprised."
Exactly!" Keith said with a grin. "And I was thinking - assuming we're pleasantly surprised - maybe we can hang around for a bit. Let the crew breathe some fresh air. A lot of us haven't been dirt side for a while. A day or two without recycled air could do all of us some--"
At that moment, a small but constant beep was being emitted from the communications panel near the helm controls. Erik swung over in his chair and accessed the array only to find out that the ship was receiving a hail. "Commander, we're receiving a hail from Aldere IV...," started the Ensign. Upon further review of the signal, Erik's eyes grew narrow in suspicion. "But...it's not originating from Everbright Colony. How is that even possible??" Erik turned around and looked at Keith with confusion and hopefully to receive some guidance from the older man.
Keith stood and stepped over to the railing in front of his seat, leaning on it lightly. He narrowed his eyes at the view screen and muttered, "Curioser and curioser... Put it through, Ensign," He said, stepping down the step to stand behind the conn.
Erik was quick on his heels and swung back around to punch in another few buttons to activate the viewscreen and pull up the video and audio source of the signal. "Channel open Sir," complied the Ensign.
He pulled his duty jacket straight as the channel chimed open, "This is Commander Keith Anderson of the USS Asger, what can I--"
Before he could finish, he was drowned out by static and white noise. The feed was distorted, fuzzy and discolored. A young man, clearly having been through an ordeal, was sitting center screen, "No time for that, please, just listen!" He said, sounding distressed. "My name is Caleb Ibanez, I'm a research scientist on Everbright Colony. Everything is... shit..." The feed crackled and scrambled for a moment, then came back more distorted than before, "They're jamming me, I don't have much t--- Research scientist from Ever------ olony! Something is wrong here, nothing is what ------- they are. You have to do something! When you get here--" There was an explosion in the background, causing the static to crackle louder.
"What's your position, what's going on? What can we--" Again, Keith was cut off.
"Shut up and listen to me!" The man screeched, "They're almost here! No one is----ey seem! No one! They've all ------ I'm the only one that's -- Trust ANYONE. Do not----- ANYONE, do you hear me!? They're not--" A loud explosion from the other man's side, and the bridge went silent.
Keith stood quiet for a moment, sharing in the dumbfounded stares that his crew were currently giving the view screen.
"Uh... Ensign... bring it back, please," Keith said, pointing at the screen. "Find that signal, now..." He pressed with more urgency.
Flying his hands over the console, Erik tried to restore the link between the ship and the source of the signal. It took a couple of minutes, and a little ingenuity for Erik to find what had been lost. "The, uh, transmission was...terminated on the other end, but, I was able to restore some of it. The video feed isn't possible, but...we are getting an audio feed. Channel open again Sir." The commotion of the other side caused Erik to stir nervously inside. He had been exposed to enough Human culture to know that this was only the beginning of what could possibly be a horror story; only this time, it seemed to more of reality than a work of fiction. Erik's own feelings of anxiety, combined with those of the rest of the bridge crew, made him feel nearly queasy. He waited to hear the Commander's voice again to be a source of strength.
Keith stood quietly, listening to the sound of fire and chaos on the other side, a dull white noise like the death of a star. Keith worked his jaw, listening for anything, any sign of life or existence, and clue as to what was really going on there, but none came.
"Ibanez," He called. "Ibanez, do you read me?"
There was a new sound, like cloth run over a microphone, and abruptly the sound stopped and "TRANSMISSION ENDED" appeared in slashed in angry crimson letters on the screen with enough abruptness that Keith jumped slightly.
He stared at the view screen for a long moment, lost in the cold silence of the bridge, before turning back to look at his XO, "Safe to say... our mission parameters just changed a bit," He said, dryly.