Title: One lost shadow.
Commander's Log: Supplemental. The Raptor is en'route to the planet Algion Prime. A place I haven't been to in at least five years. At that time I was the navigator aboard the Phoenix and we had to rescue a Confederation research team from a severe Ion storm. The mission nearly cost of some of our crew. Now the storm has cleared for at least a 24 hour time period. Hopefully this will be a routine salvage mission with few unexpected surprises...
"Coming up on Algion Prime now." Ensign. Land announced as the brightly colored orange planet came into view.
"Captain. Sensors show heavy ionization in the planets atomosphere." Science officer O'mara reported a bit excitedly. "It could pose some complications for beaming."
Harry nodded. "At ease Ms. O'mara. I'm well aware of the dangers, I've been here before." Harry got out of his chair and walked behind the helm. "Mr. Land, locate the base and set a geosynchronous orbit."
"Ahh... give me something hard to do." Land sighed swinging the Raptor into position.
"Sir.." Tactical officer Jakar announced. "I am detecting an ionization trail laced with low levels of anti matter residue. However it does not pose a threat and it is fairly dissipated.
"That would be the Phoenix's trail." Martinez surmised. "That old bucket leaked more anti-matter than any engineer would like to admit. Of course it was thirty years old and loaded with about every upgrade that the fleet could cram into it. And of course.. It was all incompatible."
"I bet I could have got it purring like a katarian kitten." Fara mused.
"Well the offers a little late.. The Phoenix is space litter."
"Orbit achieved." Land announced.
"Land, Fara, JaKar. With me." Martinez pointed to the ops officer. "Rivas, you have the bridge and I want a constant transporter lock on us at all times."
The Cornerian bridge officer nodded leaving the ops console and setting in the chair.
Martinez and the others materialized in the middle of an seemingly deserted base.
After a quick glance around he noticed that some of the wall panels were functioning.
"I thought you said this place was deserted?" Fara asked taking out a tricorder.
"Keep your phasers ready we might be dealing with space pirates or worse." Martinez said flipping on his palm light so he could see in the dim lighting. "Fara see what you can do to make it a bit brighter in here."
"Already on it." Fara said putting a pack-sized piece of equipment on a desk and hooking it up to a console. "For a place that's lasted through a two year Ion storm these O.D.N's are in fairly good shape. It's almost as if someone has been working on them.."
"Well lets hope whoever they are they're friendly." Land said scanning the room. "Stupid Ion interference has made this tricorder as useful as a coaster."
"There!" Fara said as the lights snapped back on. "Damn I'm good."
Suddenly they heard a crash of equipment from down one of the corridors.
"Someone's coming!" Land said quickly drawing out his phaser.
"Stand ready." Martinez ordered getting to a cover position behind a desk. "Jakar what is it."
"Readings indicate it is anthropomorphic and about 7 meters away."
"Don't fire until fired upon." Martinez said keeping his finger over the trigger.
A shadow moved across the opening to the corridor and suddenly a red paw was seen pushing open the door and stepping through.
Martinez instantly recognized the person as they entered the room. It was a female echidna in fleet uniform with the color of yellow and the rank of Lt. Commander, but both were in terrible shape. Her black hair was disheveled and matted with blood from a freshly made cut. He was sure it was his old shipmate from his days on the phoenix.
"Tara?" Harry said a bit confused.
"Harry do you know her?" Land asked.
"Yes I, used to be shipmates with her." Harry studded a bit confused at the figure who held her hand to her eyes to shield from their palm-lights. "Her name is Tara Torress... and she .. shouldn't be here!"
"Harry is that you?" Tara said tiredly recognizing the voice. "I don't know what the hell you're talking about Harry, but all I want to know is. What the hell took you so long to rescue me!"
O'mara was nervous, in fact probably a little high strung too.
She'd only been on the ship for a week on her first assignment and her greenness was showing quite a bit.
On the viewer, Algion was a white and blue globe highlighted by flashes of powerful lighting from her storms. Occasionally one would lash out into the atmosphere, strike the ship's shields causing it to shake slightly. She really hated it when that happened.
"Here comes another one." The helm reported.
"Steady as she goes, navigator." Rivas said levelly.
The ship shook slightly and the lights flickered a little bit.
"Engineering, why are we losing power?" The wolf asked raising a brow as he pressed the com switch.
"Eh, one of the EPS manifolds is acting up." Engineer Knact's heavily accented voice. "That last hit overloaded some of the subsystems, eh it's nothing we can't handle but you might want to try not getting hit by those lightning bolts."
"That is a negative." Rivas said. "We have to maintain geosynchronous orbit over the installation or we might loose transporter lock."
"Eh well then don't come cryin' to me when tha lights go out." Knackt said annoyed and closing the channel.
Rivas growled a bit annoyed. "Ms. O'mara if you could stop your fidgeting, try to isolate the frequency of the lightning and perhaps we can adjust our shields accordingly."
"Y, yes sir." O'mara said grateful to be focusing on something else for a bit. She accessed the sensors and got an error message.
"There seems to be an ion build up on the sensory array." She said.
Rivas sighed a patient sigh, his heckles were revealing he was not in the mood for much today. "Then do something about it lieutenant, I am not going to hold your hand."
O'mara balked but lowered he gaze and quietly said. "Yes sir."
Suddenly something blinked on her console, it was a private message.
She opened it.
"Disengage the sensors, do a quick Lv 1 Diag, restart."
O'mara looked behind her at the female echidna working quietly at her station. She quickly keyed in the commands and waited for the computer to finish its work. With an encouraging series of beeps it displayed that the contamination had been removed.
"Sensors back online, scanning." O'mara said with relief in her voice.
"Good work. Relay the information to tactical as soon as you have the data." Rivas said looking a bit less annoyed.
"How.. how.. how.." Martinez stuttered.
"Did I get here?" Tara said a bit shocked. "You mean I wasn't missed?"
Martinez stood dumbfounded. "I don't know what you mean?"
"Remember... We were beaming out the scientists and I stayed behind. The window was closing and Tinga ordered me beamed back up. I thought I'd be back on the Phoenix but the next thing I know I'm back here." Tara said then noticing his rank pins and color. "Sir." She finished a bit confused.
"Are you in need of medical attention." Martinez said pointing to a spot on his forehead.
"Damn." Tara grumbled reaching up and wincing from touching the gash in her head. "I think I do and while I'm getting fixed up... You have some explaining to do Harry."
Martinez nodded. "I will escort our guest to sickbay and I want the rest of you to get teams down her and start the salvage process."
"Aye sir." Fara, Jakar, and Land said simultaneously.
Satisfied, Martinez tapped his com-badge. "Martinez to Raptor. Two to beam up."
"Commander Martinez. The storm has intensified. You will have to bear with us while we lower our altitude to maintain lock."
Harry furrowed his brow, he didn't like the sound of that. "Understood Raptor
"Raptor?" Tara said a bit woozy from her injury. "You do have a lot of explaining to do.."
O'mara walked over to Terri's Station and tapped her on the shoulder. Terri looked up at her and shut off the ear wig attached to one of her spines.
"What's up?" she said smiling.
"Thanks for earlier." O'mara said quietly.
"Don't worry about it." Terri said quickly typing in a command on her console. "I was nervous as hell my first time." Terri said quickly checking something. "Although it would do you good to relax."
"I would but Rivas is, well kinda scary." O'mara said.
"Don?" Terri giggled. "He's more irritable then anything." Terri laughed. "You two aren't that much different, he just gets pissed where you get terrified. Look I've been here a few weeks longer then you, there are a lot worse things to be worried about then him." Terri said levelly.
Rivas gently cleared his throat. He was standing behind them. Terri gave him a sideways glance. "Sir, all decks are reporting ready."
Rivas raised a brow amused. "Well then if you two wouldn't mind we need to drop to a lower altitude. Take your station Ms. O'mara."
"Sir." O'mara said scuttling off to the science station.
Terri shot him a look and something unspoken was said followed by a sigh.
Rivas walked towards the command deck and stopped halfway to the seat. "Our helmsman may need an extra set of eyes to get us down a bit safer, if you wouldn't mind providing assistance Science officer it would be greatly appreciated."
"N… no I wouldn't mind at all." Michelle said feeling slightly more confident.
"Then by all means Ms. O'mara."
The Raptor's shields began to flare as the ship began to slowly descend into the atmosphere of the turbulent planet below.
"As far as I can tell Commander." Doctor M'benga stated. "Is that this person sitting on the med-table is Tara Torress." He pointed to the federation database which displayed information. "However she may not be the one you know of, but she's identical, Give or take a few serious injuries she is who she says she is. Although I can't explain how.."
"Well I'll talk to her and see what I can find out." Martinez said leaving the doctors office and going into the O.R. "How are you feeling?" He said warmly to Tara who was sitting on the table she was in a patient's robe and seemed relatively in better shape.
"Well a lot better. The reset the leg I broke and patched up a few wounds that had given me trouble for the past month." She said happily. "Now if it's okay with you guys I could really use some food and a nice long hot shower."
Martinez nodded. "I'll see to it that your assigned quarters.. They're not much but they will do."
"But first "Commander" tell me how you got to be commander."
"Well first off.. I think you'd better read this my friend." He said handing her a vid pad.
Tara regarded him oddly and then took the pad and activated it. After watching it for about five minutes she shut it down and placed it on the bio bed. "That can't be.." She muttered. "I remember it so clear the date was 6034.6... I was down here getting the others out as the window was closing. Then I remember beaming out but the next thing I knew... I was still here."
"But why were you surprised to see me down there?" She asked.
"Because you or a duplicate of you beamed up to Phoenix and we left that's why."
Martinez sighed and sat down on the bio bed beside her. "The Tara I know is no longer in Starfleet. She was badly injured during a deep space mission. The last time I spoke to her she had was the chief protocol manager for Starbase 001 and that was a year ago.. Ever since then she's been MIA."
"Well I can assure you Harry I've been stuck on that rock for several years and I haven't set foot off it."
"Be it as it may we are still looking into this.. I have assigned you your own quarters and you can feel free to walk around."
"How about a tour "Commander?"" Tara offered. "This ship seems pretty new and I'd love to see all of it."
"Maybe." Martinez smiled.
"Commander your presence is requested on the bridge." Teri Lu's voice announced over the intercom.
"I need to be going." Martinez said getting off the bio bed. "We'll talk later."
Tara nodded. "I'm sure of it... and Harry."
"What happened to your accent?"
"Like I said... Later." He smiled.
The Raptor did a slight roll as another wash of intense energy struck it's shields and shook the ship slightly and then several more times. The storm below was gradually becoming worse.
Harry kept his eyes fixed on the screen, ten people were down there on that base at the moment trying to recover whatever information they could from its computer core.
On the viewer the flashes of brilliant lightning created an almost psychedelic atmosphere.
"That was a little rough anything to report?" Harry asked setting his coffee cup back down.
"No damage, a few minor power fluctuations." Rivas said calmly.
"Ok, Ms O'mara how much more of a window do we have with this storm."
"It's not certain, maybe hours, maybe less." O'mara said a bit frustrated. "I've not seen anything like this before. I think though if we can re polarize the shields we might be able to shunt some of these em bursts off of us."
"Good idea, get to work on it." Harry said as the ship shook again and the lights dimmed. "Sooner is preferable to later lieutenant."
"Message from the surface sir." Terri Lu suddenly said speaking up. "Lt. Jakar ." Teri Lu replied.
"Commander. We have a problem." Jakar announced. "It appears that the information we we're required to retrieve is... Inaccessible."
"How do you mean?"
"Well the primary computer core network has been severed by a fault that is impassable.. We can't even make a link up to it."
"Well recover what you can.. We only have at least an hour before that window closes. I hate to leave empty handed but it'll have to do."
Jakar nodded and the screen winked out.
Her quarters were about as Spartan as they could be.
It was a small room big enough for two people if they could tolerate each other. It had bunked beds two small workspaces and storage trunks on the opposite walls. And to top it off, one combination (food/materials) replicator at the front of the room. Also along the ceiling were also extra storage lockers but beyond that it was pretty bare. The ship also had strange background sounds and often times smelled like machinery. Everything about this strange little ship just screamed that its primary purpose was battle.
The experience of the small communal shower stalls had been interesting though, apparently there had been a few policy changes in her absence. She felt much better after getting a few weeks worth of blood and grime off her. It had been awhile since she had managed to get a sonic shower even functional back on Algion. It was nice to actually have a real shower for once, possibly a matter of Captain's preference, done quietly and off the books. Harry never did like those things.
She liked the new uniforms, the taters of her bright yellow with black trim one piece uniform had been replaced by a yellow sleeved tunic, Black with grey shoulder, (with a small stripe of yellow), over shirt and black slacks.
Initially she had thought they might be horribly uncomfortable, but the material was light and breathed fairly well.
She replicated a rather modest meal and sat down and tried to get caught up on the last five years and see what her other self had been up too.
Tara called up the service record and started to read.
The Phoenix had been on a few more adventures since when she last saw it and apparently she had made full commander at one point. There were a few notable things that her double had accomplished, she was a bit envious. Then there was a classified section she couldn't access. Her double had been severely wounded during the Phoenix's last mission and had been scarred by plasma burns. She looked at the last known file picture of her other self and saw one side of her face was burnt fairly bad, for reasons unknown she'd opted to not have reconstructive surgery. There was also another difference, something in her doubles eyes had changed, they had a more stark and cold look coming from them, something she was used to seeing in the mirror. Whatever had changed her, had probably separated anything they might have had in common being duplicates.
Yet what if she was the double, that was a disturbing thought.
From what she could tell, everything had pretty much proceeded as it would have up till the accident.
What terrible event was so bad that it was classified?
She called up the old ships and then cross-referenced it with a personal database and only managed to find ten names out of two hundred and fifty.
She quickly called up any Fednet news stories on it and the only one was about the survivors of the Phoenix being found in escape pods after drifting for a few days. There in the picture, was Harry looking over her other self as Medical Techs rushed her out of the pod and the few other survivors were being looked over. The headline said something about an catastrophic accident when that caused the Phoenix to be destroyed.
She suddenly began to feel uneasy and restless and needed to get out of her quarters for awhile. She stepped out into the corridor and caught herself as the deck pitched slightly.
The ship was on yellow alert so most of the crew was at their stations. She could feel pulse of the engine through the deck plates and figured she was not that far from engineering. She walked towards the back of the ship and found a small little improvised lounge. There were a three crewmen sitting around apparently relaxing oblivious to the ships shaking, or at least trying to be.
They did however immediately acted busy once they saw her pips.
"At ease, I'm not even at duty." Tara said dismissively.
They suddenly relaxed, a little. Mainly because on a ship as small as the Raptor, if they don't know you; you aren't part of the crew.
"You're the one the Captain found down there aren't you?" A Caterian engineer said snapping his paw fingers. "Torress isn't it?"
"Yeah." Tara replied.
"Well Ms. Welcome to what we call the warrens."
Tara laughed. "How appropriate, and you are?
"Lt. Remmick, system operations." The Caterian purred. "This is Specialist Rydel and Briggs." He said motioning to the other female Echidna and male brown and white colored Cornerian Canine.
"Nice to meet you." Tara said. "I was just going a little stir crazy in my quarters and wanted to get around an engine again."
"Well don't take it the wrong way but you better watch out for the chief." Remmick. "She doesn't like anyone messing around with her ship without her consent."
"Who's the Chief?" Tara asked.
"The Fennic with the attitude." Jenna snickered.
"Well let her hear that and we'll all be on dock duty." Briggs muttered.
Suddenly the deck pitched forward and the red alert sounded, then it pitched back up again. Tara fell on her face and the others fell too and fro as well.
The engines began to make a high pitched wine.
"I guess that means it's back to work." Remmick said.
"Trust me let me help." Tara said.
"Fine you come with me and help monitor the damn G-diffuser systems, I'm sure that little love tap played hell with them."
"Damage report!" Harry barked.
"The starboard deflector array has disintegrated." Rivas shouted. "Trying to re route the shields."
"What was the cause of it?" Harry asked.
"There appears to be a massive iridium dust buildup forming on the on the shield bubble, the particles probably caused the feedback."
"Captain we still don't have attitude control." Jack Land quickly shouted. "Engineering I need that impulse unit back up as soon as possible!"
Harry quickly called up a ships display and frowned at the sea of red. "Mr. Rivas engage secondary mode. Mr. Land punch it as soon as we come online."
"All systems ready."
As the Raptor continued it's plummet the engine cowlings parted and the weapons ports emerged as the vessel switched to it's alternate mode. With a surge of power it quickly pulled out of its dive and plowed back into the storm for the higher atmosphere.
There was a collective sigh of relief as the storm was a large blot on the globe again without the Raptor in it.
"How bad are we hurt." Harry asked wiping his brow.
"Damage has been restricted to the deflector emitter." Rivas calmly reported. "No hull breeches, Starboard nacelle is showing minor power fluctuations. Engineering is already looking into it."
Harry scratched his head, he was hoping it wouldn't be this difficult.
"Captain, I've lost contact with the team down below." Terri said frustrated. "The storm is blocking our transmissions."
"I have a a suggestion." O'mara said quietly.
"By all means." Harry said keeping his eyes fixed on the viewer.
"If if if we use a tachyon pulse, I might be able to punch through the storm, possibly even use it for beaming too. It would take some work but, I think we have the ability to modify our deflector for it."
"Then get on it right away Lieutenant." Harry said. "Time is not on our side."
"Right sir yes sir." O'mara said quickly getting up and exiting the bridge.
"Bridge to engineering, our Science officer might need some assistance with the deflector dish can you spare anyone at the moment."
"Not right now sir, we got a lot of problems as it is at the moment." Fara replied.
"Captain." Tara's voice said over the com.
"Tara?" Harry asked.
"Yes, what is she trying to do."
Harry grinned, he didn't think she would stay in her quarters to long. Just the way she was convinced him that she was an exact copy of the Tara he knew. "Ms. Torress are you still familiar with deflectors."
"I was only away for five years I don't think the tech has changed that much."
"Good, meet Ms. O'mara at deflector control if you don't mind."
"Ok I'll be there in a few moments." Tara replied cutting out.
"Mr. Land get us back into geo sync orbit and hold us at our original position." Harry said sitting back in the command chair.
"Aye Sir, we're not planning on diving back down in that mess are we again."
"Ah, but the day is still young." Harry glared at the screen.
A while later.
"Are you sure it's done?" O'mara said looking forlornly at a small pile of feathers that had molted.
Tara wiped a bead of sweat off her brow and leaned up against the bulkhead. The deflector maintenance room was quite hot from all the conduits of energy powering the main deflector. The main array was pulled out into the center of the room with only enough space for two people to work on each side.
"Go ahead and activate it." Tara said. "Your idea you get the honors."
O'mara nodded and activated the tachyon emitter. She quickly scanned it. "Readings are nominal."
"Captain Martinez." Tara said tapping her badge, smirking at trying to be formal with him. She let O'mara step aside and she heaved the equipment trunk sliding easily back into place. "Your emitter is ready to go."
"Good work you two have Ms. O'mara come back up here, you stay there just incase."
"Sure no problem, I like being down here in the stifling heat." Tara huffed putting away her tools, as she watched the avian go. She started to head back towards the storage locker when she noticed some strange noises coming from an access trunk. She could smell burning components and could feel heat coming off it and quickly scanned it. There had been a power surge and one of the main procession nodes had become overloaded. "Computer." She queried. "Why isn't there an alarm for sub junction." She panned her eyes along the wall till she found the id tag. "SJ 309."
"THAT SUB JUNCTION IS CLASSIFIED. RESTRICTED ACCESS ONLY."
"Yeah but you do realize it's malfunctioning don't you?" Tara asked frowning at the readings.
"STANDBY. LEVEL ONE DIAGNOSTIC SHOWS NO MALFUNCTION."
"Whatever." Tara huffed quickly pulling out her tools and setting to work removing a small cutting torch and removing the lock. Within a few moments the panel was on the floor.
O'mara arrived on the bridge and quickly took her station. "One moment sir I have to bring the system back up."
"Understood." Harry nodded. He felt a bit relieved it seemed when his science officer got her head buried in her work she was a lot less flakey.
"Captain, the system is online." O'mara said proudly sitting back in her chair.
"Good work, Mr. Rivas activate the tachyon stream, Ms. Lu. Open up a com channel."
"Channel open." Terri Lu reported.
The image on the screen changed to a hazy image of Jakar.
"Captain, what happened?" He asked flatly.
"Just some rough seas." Harry replied. "What's your status?"
"Commander. We have a problem." Jakar announced. "It appears that the information we we're required to retrieve is... Inaccessible."
"How do you mean?"
"Well the primary computer core network has been severed by a fault that is impassable.. We can't even make a link up to it."
"Well recover what you can.. We only have at least an hour before that window closes. I hate to leave empty handed but it'll have to do."
Jakar nodded and the screen winked out. "Understood Commander we will try our best. Jakar out."
Harry rubbed his forehead, he had an idea of how they might be able to get that data but he really didn't want to do it.
Whatever this mangled mess of strange technology was it was something she had never seen before. Some strange green and black node seemed to have overheated and burst, corroding the primary connections to the ship's computer. If she hadn't had caught it, it would have possibly destroyed the resonator controlling the plasma conduit that ran behind the wall. She was able to get most of the strange contaminant out of there and finally got the computer to acknowledge their was a problem after she jumped the connection to the monitoring sensor. No sooner then she did it announced a warning and she stood back as it activated something called a "Regeneration Sequence." In a few moments all the damage had suddenly been repaired.
"Excuse me miss but what do you think your doing?" Fara's annoyed voice announced.
Tara turned from the open trunk. "Well your computer had no idea that this.." She was at a loss of words. "Thing wasn't registering a malfunctioning. I had to cross connect a few diodes and apparently it fixed itself." She said watching the damage slowly disappear; it was like watching a video ran backwards.
Fara's scowl softened, only slightly when she recognized who it was. "Well, better you then one of my newbies floating around here. Let me help you putting that cover back on."
Together they lifted the panel and snapped it back into place. Fara frowned at seeing the security lock melted. "I'll forgive that if you replace it."
"Don't worry I will, I think the matter was bad enough it could be forgiven." Tara took a quick glance at her rank insignia and inwardly cursed because even though this Fara was Enlisted, she still technically out ranked her as a senior officer.
"Just fix it when you have time, right now I need another engineer who isn't green right now. I looked into your record and liked what I saw." Fara replied. "Your captain had pretty high praise for you, when you were chief on the Phoenix." Fara gave the side panel a shove and it locked. "It's a shame your other self got it in her head to be a command officer, you probably would have ended up on this project. So I guess what I'm getting at is, would you mind giving us a hand?"
Tara sighed, relieved. "Sure, I'm not really a part of the crew, but I'd rather be working then sitting around feeling like someone else's shadow."
"That's all I needed to hear, come on." Fara smiled.
A few hours later.
Harry had called a conference in the Raptor's small ready room.
Jakar was on the main screen, still on the surface.
Fara and Tara had been called as well.
"We've made every attempt to safely try to retrieve the facilities data dump without any success. Chief Jakar reports that the base is becoming even more unstable do to increased seismic activity in the region. However, command is pressing me hard to recover whatever it is that is down in that core. I personally would rather take what we do have and get out of here. We still have at least two hours left at my last check, so I need some ideas."
"Captain, with everything cut off. The only way to get the data out with everything being shut down is to take a portable core to it and do a hard extraction." Tara said simply. "I know we couldn't beam down to it but I'm sure I could take a small team down and retrieve it."
"Jakar?" Harry said looking up at the screen.
"I would not advise it sir. I've already pulled most of the teams back to here for beaming.
"Tara is right, a portable is easy enough to lug around, usually takes a specialist to run it."
"How long does it take."
Fara scratched her head. "Usually no more than ten or twenty minutes they work pretty fast."
Harry hmmed and leaned his chin on his paws interlacing his fingers.
"Come on I'm sure we could pull it off." Tara said confidently.
"Ms. O'mara what are your estimates on the time we have left for our window."
"Mm m maybe another forty five minutes tops, before.. beaming is impossible." O'mara said. "However that is only a rou.. rough estimate."
"There is another way sir. We could still take the ship down to the surface, without all that ionization we should be able to transport at short range." Fara added.
"I don't think so." Harry said. "This missions already been a little more difficult than it should have been. I agree with Jakar that the risk is getting a little to high for my tastes. We're going to pull out of here as soon as Jakar's people are safely back on my ship."
"But Captain…" Fara began.
"My orders are final, if fleet wants that data back, they'll have to come back in another five years and get it. This ship is not built for this type of operation and the only reason we are on this assignment is due to our proximity to the location." Harry said standing up. "Jakar get your people rounded up we'll be dropping down to beam you in a few moments."
"Understood sir." Jakar said cutting off the transmission.
"Dismissed." Harry said. O'mara quickly left.
"Sir it really wouldn't be a problem to do it." Fara said standing up. "I'm sure Tara knows the layout better then anyone and she'd probably be able to get us there safely."
"I've already made my decision chief." Harry said firmly.
"But Ha… sir. I know that place really well I'm…"
"That will be enough, I'm not risking anybody I don't have to just for some computer data that may as well be lost." Harry said sternly. "That's the end of it, get back to Engineering Fara, it's going to be a rough trip down."
Fara glared slightly then said. "Yes sir."
"Harry? What's up you know I'm right."
"Tara, the last thing you need to be doing is trying to be a hero." Harry said firmly. "Just help where you can for now, ok and stay out of trouble."
"Sure.." Tara replied.
Harry didn't look to convinced as he left the ready room.
Tara skulked outside and stopped when she saw Fara leaning against the corridor.
"Are you dead certain we could get down there and do the retrieval." Fara said levelly.
"Are you kidding me? I've already got the damn route mapped out in my head." Tara scoffed.
"Well good, I'm going to round up my tech and you meet me down in the shuttle bay in about five minutes ok?" Fara said. "And try to stay off the main com channel if you have to contact me."
Tara nodded. "I'll go get a few things and meet you there."
The Raptor slowly made a second descent down into the maelstrom of Algion's stormy atmosphere.
"You two are going to get me in a lot of trouble." Jenna Rydel said as she powered up the cargo transporter. "The captain will probably have our hides for this."
"Don't you worry about it." Fara said as she her and Lt. Briggs stepped up onto the platform with Tara. "I will take full responsibility."
"I still don't like doing this." Jenna said with a worried tone.
"Just keep an eye on that Altimeter. We're going to start beaming as soon as the ship stops descending back into the upper atmosphere. When the ship starts beaming people up, send us down."
Moments later they beamed to the surface.
"Chief, what are you doing here?" Jakar said astonished as they materialized.
"Tara remembered that there was one other thing that they forgot the last time that we can retrieve."
"I haven't been informed about this." Jakar said warily.
"Well I don't have time to stand around and argue." Fara said shoving a finger into his chest. "Just let us get it done we'll be right up after you." She then said shoving past him with Briggs and Tara in tow.
"I will have to inform the captain." Jakar glared.
"Fine you do that!" Fara shouted over her shoulder.
Jakar watched them glowed and then hit his combadge. "Jakar to Commander Martinez, Priority One."
"THEY DID WHAT?!" Harry said getting out of the command chair and approaching the viewer.
"They did sir just a moment ago Fara and Ms. Torress and Ensign Briggs beamed down and headed for one of the access corridors and we haven't seen them since." Jakar grunted on the screen.
"Why didn't you stop them.?"
"Did you want me to stun them sir?" Jakar said raising a brow.
"No, next time yes. Just get your team rounded up and ready for transport."
Suddenly the ship pitched and Land cursed. "Damnit it's another one of them ion bursts." He said frantically trying to get control of the ship as the alarm sounded.
"Damnit Tara even that's all I need is you and Fara's combined ambition causing me problems." Martinez rubbing his head in frustration.
"Excuse me sir?" Jarkar smirked on the screen .
"Never mind... Tell everyone to be ready to evacuate in twenty minutes. Raptor out." Martinez said closing the channel. "Lieutenant O'mara begin to hypothesizing a way to keep that window open using whatever means it takes.. I have a feeling this routine mission is going to turn chaotic."
"I will try my best sir." O'mara replied.
"Ms. Lu can you do anything to punch through that damn interference. So we can get a hold of them."
"I'm working on it sir." Terri said calmly. "Even with what we do have on this ship it is going to be difficult."
Tara had gotten them down to the core in record time.
It had been fairly easy getting down to it, there were only a few scary parts like the small access bridge that
"C'mon C'mon..." Fara said drumming her fingers on the panel. "It should be done by now. Briggs what's going on!"
"I don't know the core is relatively intact... It's just whatever is in it is freaking huge." Briggs complained.
"What were they studying down here?" Fara asked.
"I have no idea I was only here when they evacuated." Tara said thoughtfully. "I guess it was some sort of weapons development or something."
"Well whatever it is... It's big." Briggs a growled.
Suddenly the whole place shook. "What the hell was that!" Fara exclaimed.
"An earthquake." Tara muttered. "This is what happened last time... when.." Suddenly she stood up and headed for the corridor.
"Where are you going?" Fara asked as she left.
Moments later she returned. "The bridge has just collapsed. We're trapped!"
Martinez was pacing around the bridge. He had three crewmen stranded deep within the planet and no way to retrieve them. Transporter signal was becoming weaker by the moment as the window closed. The ship was being tossed about with like a rag doll even with its enhanced G-Diffuser system.
"Captain I'm receiving a message from the surface." Terri Lu said. "It's Ms. Phoenix."
"About time." Harry growled. "Put it on screen."
The screen flickered and Harry straightened up and looked sternly at the screen as the image wavered.
"Hello Captain." Fara said wanly on the screen.
"Where are you and why what took so long for you to report back, we've been trying to raise you."
"We're down in the lower parts of the installation, unfortunately, we seem to be stuck."
Harry glared, he really, really was pissed at her and it was taking all the control he had not to show it.
"We do have the data packet." Fara added. "We got the whole thing."
"Understood, now what are you going to do to get out of there. We do not have much time left." Harry said.
"Surely there must be another way?"
"Well... there is one way." Fara's voice said statically over the link. "But you're not going to like it."
"Well we don't have to many options." Martinez replied. "Let's hear it."
"Lt. Torress says that there is an access tunnel that leads to an shuttle landing pad on the surface. She says it is rather large and there is no way to miss it. The problem is though is, our way might be cut off due to that last quake."
"Mr. Rivas." Harry said.
"Chief Pheonix is correct." Rivas reported. "There is an landing pad structure, but it appears most of the shelter has been damaged by the storms and their would be no protection from the elements."
"You do realize that the surface temperature is negative 170 Celsius don't you." Martinez said turning towards the screen.. "You'd freeze in a few minutes!"
"The other option isn't much better." Fara replied.
"But we're already losing transporter locks as it is." Martinez replied. "The Ionization is making transport risky as it is."
"What about planet fall?" Tara's voice spoke up. "Look if that ship of yours can drop below the upper atmosphere then the disturbance wouldn't be as bad."
"The Raptor isn't a Darian class." Martinez interjected. "We can't just simply fly down there and pick you up."
"Technically you can..." Fara spoke up over the link. "When I built that ship the Fleet raised all sorts of hell about giving it the ability to be as versatile Urthean Interceptors. So I put the largest damn G-Diffusers I could find on that thing. And believe me it can fly."
"Sounds like a plan to me." Land said from the conn. "I say we get our people out of there now and do what the little lady suggests."
"Since when did you start giving orders around here." Martinez growled sitting in the command chair.
"Sorry, sir." Land said turning back to his work and shutting his mouth.
"Jakar get your people out of there. Attention all hands battlestations. Mr. Land I hope you're still familiar with atmospheric flight."
"Are you kidding?" Land said eagerly taking the con.
"We'll send a signal as soon as we arrive." Tara announced over the com.
"How long will it take to get to the landing pad." Martinez asked.
"I don't know.. about ten, fifteen minutes tops." Tara said appearing on the screen. "We'd have to book it but I think we can do it."
"The clock starts now we'll begin our descent." Harry said. "Don't be late."
"We'll be there as soon as we can. Raptor out."
"All hands.. Blue alert. If you don't know what it is ask someone who does." Martinez announced. "Mr. Land take us down."
"Aye aye." Land said pitching the Raptor's bow towards the planet and entering the atmosphere. Soon the hull began to shake as it entered the Ion storm.
"I might want to warn you sir, this is the first time I've flown and battleship into a full blown ion storm!" Land announced as the Raptor pitched violently nearly throwing him from his seat.
"Now he tells us!" Martinez grumbled. "Shields to full power!"
"The base is about 100 kilometers in front of us we are approaching at full impulse."
"How much time has passed." Martinez demanded over the roar of the ships engines.
"About five minutes."
` "Slow us down Mr. Land I don't want to over shoot them."
"Are you kidding!" Land exclaimed. "I don't want to end up stuck here crashed on the surface!"
"That's why your flying this ship mister!" Martinez snapped back. "So I suggest you shut up and fly!"
Tara, Fara and Briggs sprinted up the dimly lit steep corridor. Debris and conduit fragments littered it and did their best to avoid falling over them. The data retrieval unit had been left behind and the storage module was being carried by Briggs who ran in between them.
The Raptors engines whined as the ship bucked and shuddered as it continued to plunge down into the swirling maelstrom. The plunge so far had been very rough and the ship felt like it was being shaken to pieces.
"We will be there in approximately five minutes." Jakar reported.
A phaser blast shattered the door leading into the shattered remains of the control shelter and Tara, Fara and Briggs climbed out. Sweat began to frost as soon as it touched the super frigid air. It was so cold it nearly sucked the breath from their lungs. The landing padd creaked as the winds tore at it. Tara looked up and saw the massive storm that reached far up into the sky threatening to devour the base.
All three of them huddled together as close as they could, for what good it did, and activated the beacon.
"I'm picking up the signal!" Jakar announced. "We are within safe transport range."
"Beam them directly to sickbay!"
Seconds of silence passed as the only thing that could be heard was the roar of the fierce storm outside the ship.
"We got them!" Jakar announced.
"Get us out of here full impulse!"
The Raptor immediately began its accent and within a few moments it was back in the relative safety of space.
"Damage report." Martinez asked.
"Hull stress fractures on decks 4 and 5 shields are down to 44 %." Jakar replied. "Repair systems online."
"Stand down from red alert. I'll be in sickbay if anyone needs me." Martinez said getting out of the captain's chair.
"That's the last time I'm ever doing that again." Fara chartered as the doctor healed the frostbite on her ears. "That air was colder than hell.. I don't think we would have lasted another few seconds."
"That idea was crazy, both of you." Martinez stated then turning to Tara. "Sometimes.. Crazy works." Tara smiled draped in a thermal blanket and sipping down a hot cup of coffee. She had a few derma patches on her face. Briggs looked no worse then the two of them.
"But not all the time..." Martinez replied.
Harry huffed. "Unfortunately, do to acting contrary to my orders, I'm going to have to put the three of you in the brig." He turned to Fara. "Next time if you pull something like that, I don't care if you are my Chief engineer and the project coordinator. I will have you removed from duty, permanently. Is that clear?"
Fara looked as if she wanted to say something back, but sighed and nodded her head. "Clear, Captain."
Jakar then stepped with two other security officers.
"Harry we did get the data, isn't that a little…"
"Ms. Torress, you are not in a position to question my decisions." Harry said sternly, showing a faint look of hurt. "If you'll accompany Mr. Jakar."
"Can I ask one question, what happened to the base?" Tara said stopping and turning brds him.
"We've been monitoring it.. The storm has destroyed it." Martinez replied. "All that's left to do is to go home."
"Yeah, home.. I guess." Tara said quirking a faint smile. Setting her cup on a stand and being led out with the others by security.
Harry watched them go and then leaned back on a medical bed and rubbed his head.
"Commander?" Dr. Okan said walking up to him once everyone was gone. "I found something that might interest you."
"What might that be?" Harry asked.
"Well I had to do some digging into the records to find the Phoenix's sensor logs and I discovered that during the initial beam out. The confinement beam doubled as you were being beamed up to the Phoenix. This beam ran parallel to the original but, unlike the original it was reflected back to the surface by the disturbances in the planets atmosphere."
"So she's an transporter made clone?"
"In a way, more of a exact copy. Up until that time, the Tara you see here and the one you know where the same person, except that this one rematerialized on the surface. The other rematerialized on the Phoenix."
"Identical in every way." Harry smirked amazed, he had assumed as much. "Thank you doctor, I'll share that with her she's released. They won't need any further treatment will they."
"No, if I thought they were in danger I wouldn't have let you hauled them off." Okan said. "They might be a tad uncomfortable as they heal up, but nothing they can't deal with."
Harry chuckled. Despite the insubordination, Fleet HQ was going to be thrilled that they had managed to accomplish the mission successfully.
Suddenly the com broke in. "Land to Martinez, repairs are finished and we're just about to break orbit."
"Take us home mister Land." Martinez replied.
Almost two weeks had passed. Tara was eventually returned to duty and she had filed for a transfer, during that time she caught up with Harry. She didn't harbor any ill will towards him for her time in the brig. She just was shocked he had did it. Apparently, due to circumstances, she had gotten off fairly light with only one disciplinary action put on her record.
Tara didn't want to be stuck on the station, she said being staying in one place to long just wasn't her thing. Harry had to pull some strings and make some calls but he did manage to find a place for Tara.
As for finding out about the transporter accident that created her. Tara took it quite well, or as well as one could take it.
The chime to his quarters rang and Martinez went to answer. Tara was standing outside. Over her shoulder she had a small duffel bag.
Harry looked her up and down. "You got the assignment?"
"Yeah!" Tara said excitedly. "Thanks."
"Don't think you are getting off that easy." Harry said. "Captain Dicola is quite, headstrong. You two will probably be butting heads a lot."
"She must be desperate for a chief engineer."
"Well, I gave her a glowing recommendation. I hope you've gotten caught up on your tech readings?"
"I got a whole bag full of em, I don't think I'll have too much trouble catching up." She sighed and smiled. "It'll be almost like old times again."
Harry nodded. "Yeah, wish I could say the same."
Tara looked down at the floor then back at his eyes. "I haven't been around, and I know a lot has happened to you then I can imagine and.." she reached up and gently touched the side of his face. "You aren't the same kid I knew back then, you have your own command now and people who look up to you. If I stay around, it… it would be complicated."
Harry nodded and grasped her hand.
"I've also put in to have my name changed." Tara said. "If I'm going to set off on a different path then my other self, I need my own name. That way I'm not living in their shadow."
"What are you changing it to?" Harry asked.
"Ariel." She said. "You like it?"
"It's beautiful but, Isn't that your middle name?"
Ariel nodded. "Yeah, it'll take some getting used to."
There was a moment of silence.
"When are you leaving?"
"Within the hour." Ariel smiled. "I would like some company, if you don't mind."
"Of course not." Harry replied.
"Oh I forgot something." Ariel said checking the corridor.
"What's tha…" Tara then hugged him and gave him an affectionate and deep kiss. "Thank you for coming to rescue me.. I somehow knew you'd find me."
Harry flushed a bit taken off guard but smiled. "Anytime, for you."
"Well." Ariel smiled. "Ready?"
"Yeah, lead the way." Harry smiled.
And together they headed for docking ring.