Phases of Polarity: Chapter 1

Phases of Polarity

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Owain Taggart

Phases of Polarity - Chapter 1

Owain had heard a lot about the race, or the remnants of what were supposed to be the race anyhow. He had followed the news updates while vacationing on Trill, and visiting his parents, something he hadn't done since entering Starfleet. It was something he had needed to do; a time of reflection for him after the harrowing experiences that presented themselves on his last mission. Now energized, he was looking forward to commanding the Horizon again, and was grateful that Captain Zeta had brought back the ship in one piece. Yet, by his orders a thorough inspection was provided. To his surprise, a slight refit had been done, to provide her with the latest innovations.

Five weeks of travel had brought them here, and Owain wasn't yet sure why, though Admiral D'Rinax was insistent that he come along. That bit was curious, and he was bound to find out sooner or later. He hadn't even been told his mission yet.

Owain shielded his eyes from the viewscreen; everyone did to save their sensitive vision.

"I thought I ordered the polarizing filter turned on?", Owain asked irritatedly

Confused, the operations officer, who did his best to work with the glare on his screen, looked down on it and squinted, "It's on, sir."

"Well, darken it. Max it.", Owain snapped back.

This did nothing to ease the operations officer. In fact, he shook his head. He wasn't sure what else he could do. "Uh, sir, It is on Max. It's as dark as it will go."

Disappointed, Owain frowned and relaxed a little. "Well, shit." Then he turned to the Admiral. "I guess Starfleet isn't yet equipped to explore systems with dual suns. Have any ideas?"

Of course, the Admiral just grinned. A goofy kind of grin too, which told Owain he knew something. "Oh, so you know something. Does it have something to do with the refit?" Owain asked him, returning his grin.

The Admiral stepped over to the ops panel still smiling "Captain, your guess… is wrong" he then quickly presses a sequence of commands and the bridge begins to return to its original luminosity. "There… that should do it" adds Drawde as he steps back away from the panel.

The ops officer looks at Drawde then at the panel and begins to smile as well.

"Captain, Starfleet IS equipped to explore Dual Sun systems now as you can clearly… see… no pun intended, which brings me to my next subject." he then motions to the Ready Room "Please join me in your ready room"

Owain nodded and lead the way to his ready room. There, he awaited the Admiral to be seated. "The grand moment I've been waiting for. I must say, your presence here is appreciated, though I must admit a curious one. I suppose you'll tell me why we're way out here in uncharted territory?", he asked, and added a grin as he continued, " I mean aside from Starfleet's goal of exploration…"

Drawde takes a seat across from Owain's desk, clasps his hands together and steeples his index fingers against his chin. Owain sits in the chair behind his desk and leans forward, ready to hear what the Admiral has to say.

"Several months ago the USS Ozborn was sent to this region of space by Starfleet to investigate mysterious subspace signals. Their last transmission was one of normal reply stating that they had found this system. Logs and sensor data was sent back to Stafleet detailing the dula suns and other good information. Starfleet sent a message back authorizing Captain Ogleby and her crew to explore the M-Class planet we are closest to."

Drawde repositions himself, sitting forward and resting his elbows on his knees.

"No reply was ever received. We are not sure what happened to the Ozborn and are being sent to its last know coordinates to see what we can find. Our mission is twofold. One, we are to try and locate the Ozborn and Two, We are to see if we can find the source of the subpace signals and investigate."

Drawde then stands and moves the the replicator to get some coffee. "The reason I have decided to come along is to evaluate some of your crew. This is to remain between you and I so make up some reason as to why I am here if you are asked."

Owain nodded calmly, and wondered why some of his crew needed evaluating beyond the obvious, but this was the Admiral's decision and he had to go along with it. "Alright. I'll prepare a team for the surface, and you can stay here to monitor our progress, unless you have better ideas. Anything else I should know about?"

"Besides trying to find out what may have happened to the Ozborn we are to scan the system and obtain as much information as we can for Starfleet. Data on the rest of the additions to your ship is currently being downloaded to the appropriate stations. Have your team review the additions and coordinate any training that might be needed. As far as my participation in all of this, Like I said I am here to evaluate several of your crew. The details of who and why will be revealed to you when the time comes." Drawde sets his cup on the desk. "That is all I have for now Mr. Taggart"

Owain nodded, "Understood, Admiral." He then walked out back onto the bridge, taken aback again at the double suns that were within their view.

Nicholas Li

The Dracon crew members from beta shift completed the day's scheduled inspections of all the Horizon's Shuttle hull plates before noon ST. They used several calibrated Engineering Triks to check the spacecraft’s underside, nose sensor array and leading edges of the wings as well as hard to reach shuttle surfaces.

The inspections are performed to check for any damage to the plating in preparation for the various scientific expeditions of this Dual Sun system. The shuttles must be ready for any unexpected anomalies of this exploration. Nicholas was glad to be still exploring the universe instead of blowing it up. Although he was not yet part of Starfleet during the Dominion Invasion, he was in his planet's militia during the war. It grated him then and still that exploration was halted, war was never the ideal of Starfleet.

Over the next few days, astrometrics, operations and engineering will be analyzing the data collected by the Horizon crew of the system and its affect on the ship itself.

The last few days Engineering has been preparing for Thursday’s arrival into the DS system. The day's activities include the extension of the ship's sensor pods and the check out of tools they will use.

Earlier today, the crew of the Horizon checked out the containment field to be used during work on the subspace transmitter in the outer orbit of the system. They will be installing a new Node 2 module. In addition, the crew will check the integrity of the transmitter's structural trusses and micro fusion generator.

On top of the regular stresses of a scientific expedition, Nicholas has to doubly be on the ball since Admiral Drawde is on board. The Captain has yet to explain to even the senior officer the reason that the Admiral is accompanying us on this mission. The rumour mill has surmised that it could be a personal mission or a personnel review of the Captain. That would suck.

Kain Garion

Kain was still ordering his new bar onboard the Horizon. It was larger than any he had before but this was a blessing for he loved to keep the true stuff of a lot of drink in supply. He wasn’t very fond of the replicators at all. Drink it as it was meant to be or not at all is his motto.

Carefully he places all the bottles on their correct places. And the overstock in the climate control room. When all the bottles are in place at last it is time for the glasses. These to are placed in a set order. There are many different kinds cause each drink has it own glass therefore of some glasses there where only 4 and of other dozens. Still in contrast to the bottles these where ready quick.

He walked around the bar and looked at it from the costumer side and nodded with a happy face. This was going to be a place to stay for a long wile. He heard some people walking on the corridor and realised how silent it was. “Computer access Garion personal music files Karl Jenkins Adiemus and play and continue in album Karl Jenkins” The computer made it confirming beep and the music started to play.

Happy with it and singing a bit with the song he moved to the small kitchen area, to check on his ovens. The cookies and snacks where almost done and the scents filled the small room. He grabbed some silver plates and placed them on the bar and tables. The he removed the snacks and cookies from the ovens and placed them on all the plates. There where many different ones cinnamon, vanilla, cheese, curry and many more.

When all was placed and new plates where in the oven Kain nodded he was ready to open. “Computer unlock doors” a beep sounded far away in the music and Kain took his place behind the bar. “Let them come” he said smiling at he cat he found on the station his nametag sold him its name was Sarion.

Owain Taggart

Owain almost tripped as he came out onto the Bridge from the Ready Room, as his XO was nearly right in front of him, anticipating his exit. Owain looked at him hard, as if to say he wasn't very pleased. The fact was, this was a new man aboard the ship, newly assigned to the Horizon, and he wasn't very used to his Commanding Officer yet. It had only been 5 weeks; little time for them to share stories and glory and to get to know each other. To say that the new XO had little understanding of personal space was an understatement.

"Sorry, sir. That was an accident.", the man apologized, and wondering what he should do next, he asked a question. "Sir, I assume you'll tell us what we're doing orbiting this dual sun system? A lot of talk has been made about what we're doing here. "

Owain nodded patiently, remembering his days as an XO, when his job was to try to get as much information as he could to please the officers. "Round up the staff for a briefing in the conference room in one hour, Mr Langford."

"Aye, sir", replied his new XO.

<= Ten Forward =>

He had heard about the new service in Ten Forward. Supposedly a new bartender had made the Horizon his new home. Word had travelled fast, and the word was good, and so he had decided to show the bartender a little visit himself. A little drink before the mission wouldn't hurt. Upon entering Ten Forward, he was greeted by the friendly face behind the bar. He was also struck with a feeling of familarity, and he couldn't figure out why. He presented himself and welcomed him aboard and then ordered his drink; Laphroiag on the rocks. He drank, and they shared stories. And then he came to one of the reasons he had taken some shore leave; the death of one of his officers that had hit him deeply. And then he realized the familarity…

"You remind me of someone I knew", Owain told him, smiling, and unwilling just yet to reveal what he meant by that. Instead, he just finished off his glass and headed out the door.

<= Conference Room =>

When Owain entered the conference room, everyone was abuzz, talking loudly and wondering amongst themselves. That is, until they saw Admiral D'Rinax follow in tow, and then everything went silent, and the mood was suddenly tense.

"At ease, everyone", he told them while the Admiral walked to the back of the room and made himself comfortable. "Now, I'm sure you're all curious as to what we're doing out here. I'm about to tell you." Now everyone seemed to relax and were looking to their Captain for answers.

"Months ago, Starfleet sent a ship to investigate this region of space due to some odd subspace signals, her name the Ozborn. We knew this system existed due to their last transmission. We knew it was a Dual sun system at this point and Starfleet authorized them to investigate further, and explore the M-Class planet within the system, which is what we're currently orbiting."

"Sadly, we never heard a word back from them, and we assumed they had disappeared. Something had to have happened to them, and Starfleet sent us to investigate. That's where we come in. These are her last coordinates, and as you can all see, there's no sign of her or any debris.", Owain explained, pointing at one of the live views on the screen.

"Although, thorough research indicates a colony on the surface of the planet, we are to investigate and see if there are any signs of the Ozborn crew. The Prime Directive is under action at the moment, until said otherwise, which means we must try to blend in as much as possible with the colony below." He looked at his Operations officer now, and remembered another vital piece of information. "The technology level of this colony is about equal to that of Earth of the 1900's, give or take.

"Now when we arrive to the surface, we will split up into teams. Some of us will try to find out about the crew, and some of us will be tasked to find out the source of the subspace signals and investigate. " Now finished, he looked back to the Admiral in the far corner of the room, who nodded slowly. "I know some of you have been wondering why we have an Admiral aboard. Some of us hold certain fascination, and the Admiral has always been fascinated with dual sun systems and wanted to tag along with this mission. I can't say I blame him.", he explained, and he wasn't sure if anyone was buying it, but it at least stalled him.

"Mr Langford, I want a team of my best men to go down to the surface with me. Have everyone ready to depart in 2 hours and meet in the Transporter Room."

Charles Langford nodded, "Aye sir. Anything else?"

"No, but if anyone has any questions?" he asked of anyone in the room.

Kain Garion

Kain was surprised to see the Captain showing up at a hour like this. "Hello sir want can i get for you today?" The captain moved to the bar before replying "Laphroiag on the rocks." Kain looked to his stock for a moment and showed up a with a glass of Laphroiag whiskey but without the ice as the captain requested. "No one here ruins a fine drink like this with ice captain. Try it pure just nibble it to find its great taste" Kain saw the Captains face but ignored it. Wile the captain went to his drink Kain told some of his past and heard some of the Captain's to. Just before the Captain witch he now knew as Owain left he said. "You remind me of someone I knew"

Kain didn’t know what the Captain mend by it so he let it rest for now. He was way to busy anyway to think of it. The people onboard the ship had found his bar all to soon. His ovens where running overtime to keep the supply of snacks up and the drinks went over the bar at light speed. “Light speed warp 10 you mean” Kain smiled as he came out of the small kitchen with two very hot plates of salmon snacks. “Watch it this is hot and I know sickbay I probably empty but still” some laughter came from the people as Kain placed the plates on the tables to offload the snacks.

When done he took his position behind the bar again. Romulan ale, beer, weird stuff and his personal favourite whiskey went fast. Even though most he sold had to be the replicated stuff to prevent the crew from going to their workstations drunk. He still sold some original stuff. Well sold wasn’t the right word but he got a nice penny for the federation for his job and new drinks as he requested. This saved him a lot of the headaches he had known on non-federation vessels.

Things where starting to ease down a bit as the new shift started and people left for their work stations. This small window gave Kain the opportunity to clean up and prepare for the next load. ‘Mm the cinnamon-lemon cookies are going fast I better make plate or two more of those” He said softly wile cleaning up a bit. It wasn’t dirty or so just some crumps here and there and a glass that had slipped out of someone’s hand.

When done cleaning Kain went back to his ovens. He inserted the prepared plates into them and set their timers. It wouldn’t be to long before to next wave came in. the thought of finding someone to help had crossed his mind to be he knew that the first week was always busy and after that it would ease down a bit aiding to the good atmosphere he aimed for.

While he excited his kitchen he saw a lone crewman standing at the bar. “Hello there want can I get for you?” he said. But when he approached the person turned around and left. Kain looked surprised and wondered about that man. He hadn’t been able to see his face because he looked down when Kain approached him. “Weird” he said and leaned on the bar pouring himself a drink.

Owain Taggart & Rynen Dale (JP)

"I know some of you have been wondering why we have an Admiral aboard. Some of us hold certain fascination, and the Admiral has always been fascinated with dual sun systems and wanted to tag along with this mission. I can't say I blame him."

Rynen laughed quietly at this comment. Although she was a betazoid and knew for a fact that the Captain was lying through his teeth, one didn't have to be a telepath to know that something else was going on. Ever since the dissolvement of the Aquila's crew and her re-assignment to the Horizon, the ensign had gained a cynicism that would not be easily lost. She resented the Admiralty and their decision regarding Captain- or rather, Commander- Mikalsen, and this dislike carried over to Admiral D'Rinax. Despite the fact that she had never met the man, she already suspected his reasons for being on the Horizon. However, she had to be cordial to him. He was an Admiral. That position demanded respect due to the power he held, if nothing else.

Rynen's attention was brought back to the discussion at hand as Captain Taggart asked if there were any questions. Rynen raised her hand slightly.

"Yes, go ahead, Ensign.", he told her.

"With all due respect, Captain, but don't you think this away mission would be better handled by Tactical and Science than by you and Commander Langford?" Rynen inquired. She felt that this was her responsibility, and she wasn't going to get bypassed simply because she was a relative newcomer to Starfleet and the Horizon.

Owain nodded. He understood her plight. A lot of people had died recently, and her concerns were natural. "I understand your concern, Ensign. I really do. I've seen a lot and have been through a lot myself, and the last thing I would wish for is to have my crew in danger. If going down there puts me in danger, then that's a risk I'm willing to take in order to protect the crew."

"Captain, if anything, you being down there puts myself, my staff, and the rest of the away team at risk. We can't do our jobs if we are busy protecting you." She responded, a fire ignited in her brown eyes.

All eyes were on them both now, and he realized that they should be getting back to work and getting prepared for the mission. "Dismissed, everyone!" Then he looked back at her and sighed.

She looked Owain in the eyes, and continued, a softer tone to her voice, "I'm sure you remember what happened to Nera.."

"Of course I do. You don't think I tried to prevent it? That was something out of my control, Ensign, and for your information, I've felt bad about it ever since. Now, I don't see what that has to do with this. I would prefer if you didn't dredge up old hurtful memories."

Rynen stared hard at the Captain for a moment. "Well, it happened, Owain. And if you don't want anyone else to end up dead, I suggest you remain on the ship and let me do my job." She replied, reverting to her commanding officer's first name, as she had referred to him on the Aquila. There was a brief pause, the tension between the two growing.

Owain stared right back at her, his arms crossed. "Your concern is noted. Is there anything else of concern? I have a mission to perform, Ensign, and I'd prefer if we could work together on this."

Rynen nodded, and stood. "That's all. Now if you'll excuse me, I have duties to attend to, sir." Rynen stated, the last word hinting at the bitterness she was trying hard to hide. The betazoid then turned and walked out of the room.

As Owain watched her leave, he shook his head. He knew where she was coming from, but at the same time, he knew he had to be down there. For whatever it was worth, he was glad to have someone with concerns.

Drawde D'Rinax

Drawdè kept his seat as the crewmembers filed out of the room taking special notice of the interaction of Miss Dale and Captain Taggart. From his vantage point; he had the assistance of the reflection from the, now black, wall monitor that allowed him to view both faces.

Something was definitely up with Miss Dale. He wasn’t quite sure if it was anger or frustration but there was something bothering her. He could also tell that she knew that his presence on the Horizon wasn’t for his "curiosity of Dual Sun Systems." Drawdè looked at the two for a moment then down at his PADD and entered a few notes.

As people passed him on the way out of the room they became more “strict” in their movements. Despite Drawdè’s smiles and nods, nervousness enveloped each passerby until they were beyond his gaze.

The conversation between Owain and Rynen ended on, what seemed to be, a sour note. As Rynen passed the Admiral she too became a bit more rigid but averted her eyes from his. After the door closed behind her, Drawdè made a few more entries in his PADD.

Drawdè stood and slipped the PADD into his breast pocket. As he turned to exit the room, Captain Taggart approached him.

“Excuse me, Admiral…”

Drawdè turns and replies

“Captain… If you will excuse me, I have a matter that needs my immediate attention, Can this wait?”

“Owain hesitates for a moment, “Yes Sir, it can. Please let me know when you have a few moments to spare.”

Drawdè steps towards the door and it opens with the familiar swoosh. As he walks out he replies “I will Captain, oh and I need secure access to the dossiers of everyone in this room. Have it sent to my quarters as soon as possible. Thank You” The door then closes behind him.

Owain Taggart

< = Ready Room = >

Alone for the first time in hours, Owain keyed in the access code that would give the Admiral complete access to his crew's files, then hesitated. Owain didn't like being watched; didn't like feeling like his crew was living in a fishbowl, but then, this was the Admiral, and the Admiral was on his side. He had no idea why he was acting this way. Maybe it had been the fact that so much had happened on his last mission. He was only being protective of his crew, yet he had nothing to hide.

Then he pressed the send button, and that was that. Then he left for his Quarters.

< = Captain's Quarters = >

Owain changed into something completely ordinary. That is to say, he changed into something that wouldn't be conspicuous down on the planet below. Something that would make them look like they fit on the planet. He rummaged around and found some plain, light clothes. He looked in the mirror and felt he was missing something. He thought about it for a moment, until his eyes rested on a hat. It had been given to him on his shore leave by an old friend of his. A texan apparently, who had told him this hat would bring him fortune. He was greatful of course, though at the time, he wasn't really sure it would be useful to him. Of course, it also made him look out of place among the other people around him.

He placed the hat on his head and looked in the mirror. Looking at himself made him guffaw. It was perfect.

##0000FF< = Transporter Room 1 = >##

Upon entering the Transporter room, he saw Nick, dressed in similar clothing and went straight to him.

"Well, howdy." Owain said in greeting while motioning with the tip of his hat, "Hardy Har har.", he said in his best texan accent he could muster.

"Well aren't you an interesting Texan…." Nick said while laughing. "No, seriously, I think you'll fit in just fine."

"Nick, glad you're here.", he told him as he clapped his shoulder. "Listen, you'll be in charge of team 2, the team searching for the origin of the subspace signal. Dale and I will be Team 1 trying to locate the Ozborn crew. Looks like you're in need of an adventure." Owain grinned at this. "Any questions?"

Nick shook his head, and that was Ok, because out of the corner of his eye, Owain noticed the others dressed similarly streaming into the Transporter room. One of them was Commander Langford. "Sorry, gotta go, Nick…" and stepped towards the Commander. "Commander?"

"Sir, I think she's right…. I should be going down there."

Owain shook his head and sighed. "Not again", he thought to himself. "I understand the concern, Commander. I just think you could be put to better use on the bridge coordinating the effort at the moment. There's always next time. It's only your first mission aboard as Executive Officer. You'll have plenty of other times badgering me on the issue. Afterall, it's pretty much a tradition. I've even done it."

This seemed to hit the Commander. He was sympathetic to the issue. "Nera Janey. She was special to you wasn't she?"

"Oh god, why did he have to mention her now? At a time like this where he was getting ready for his mission on the surface?", he thought again. He nodded. "She was. I won't deny that we were close, Charles. It's why it hit me as hard as it did. It's also why I have reluctance to send anyone else down to the surface." Charles nodded at this with understanding. " Afterall, if I die down there, you'll get to take over." This elicited a chuckle from him, and it seemed that despite any misgivings, things were going to be OK.

Milling about were those ready to go down to the surface. Owain looked around to see if everyone was ready. Then he stepped onto his pad, and watched the others. Commander Langford stepped back and wished him good luck. "Energize!", Owain commanded to the transporter technician.

The solid ground beneath his feet felt reassuring as he materialized on the planet's surface. Immediately, he shielded his eyes, as the glare from the dual suns took him aback, glad that he had found a hat to wear. He was already starting to sweat. This heat was hot, and very much unlike the last planet he was on. But at least they hadn't needed any extra gear.

He looked around to get his bearings, and found the rest of the team already starting to get readings. As a scientific mission, he could tell this was already successful, though he was hard pressed to really find this planet impressive. There really wasn't much to it. It was dust and even more dust. A bit like Mars, he thought.

"Team One: Ensign Dale, you're with me. McCorski, you're also with me." Seeing as Dale had been concerned about his safety, he had made sure to bring along two security escorts along per team. "We're to see if we can locate the Ozborn crew or any clues as to their whereabouts. Team Two: Lieutenant Li and anyone else not assigned to me. You will be in charge of locating the origin of the subspace signal. We are to keep in contact at all times. When we're ready to leave, we come back to this spot. Understood?" He nodded at them all, and they briefly seperated into two teams.

Nicholas Li

<=Planet Side - NPC: Ensign Orwin, Jackson and Khan, Petty Officer Michaels and Potter=>

Nick was leading a team of two security officers and two engineers and a science officer. As Nick surveyed his team, he saw that all were properly attired in customary native garb. It was a combination of woven plant and animal fibers that resembled the style of the American West of the 1900's. All the men wore a shirt, usually white. Some had blue patterns such as stripes or diamonds. Most opted for the brown frontier pants, while the security officers wore dark blue denim. They also wore the typical sack coat over the shirt. They all had a scarf or bandanna to cover our faces from the dust and a hat to shield us from the twin suns. The Doc had inoculated us from UV damage for several weeks, but our eyes were still vulnerable. Only Ensign Jackson wore a beige twill culotte skirt, a blouse and a brown coat. She also had a bonnet as per the custom of the planet.

Nicholas ordered all of his team to double check their equipment before heading out. They each had a cotton or leather duffel bag with tricorders, med kits, communicators and rations. Orwin carried a phase modulator, Khan had a power converter/cell and Jackson carried the transporter beacon. Security probably had other tools they needed, but Nick trusted them to keep tabs on their end of things.

Michaels had point, while Potter guarded the group's flanks. Jackson looked for the signal, while Orwin did a quick correlation scan of the geology and cartography of the region. Khan the xenobiologist surveyed the region's flora and fauna for potential hazards. Team 2's trek would be an arduous one. The signal seemed to originate 30 clicks from any civilized community. The away team beamed in only 5 kilometers from the largest of the cities. This environment was very arid and the team needed to make sure that they kept sufficiently hydrated.

Nicholas put his hand into his pockets and felt the coolness of stainless steel. He remembered that the new bartender Kain had given him a flask of his best whiskey. Nicholas had been in the mess talking over about the mission when Kain had interrupted him and recommended that he bring this with him. He explained that it would be helpful as an emergency bartering item and at the very least it was a good antiseptic in a pinch. His argument was very cogent and also he said, "If you don't use it, we can drink the content to celebrate the success of the mission." Who could say no to that.

Seeing that the first sun was getting closer and closer to it's zenith, Nicholas quickly hustled his team to get under way. Double noon on this planet would preclude any travel. They had to get to a certain outcropping on the map before that happened.

Nicholas turned to the Captain and said, "We're ready Captain, good luck on your hunt."

The Captain smiled and replied, "You as well Lieutenant, bring your team back safely."

Owain Taggart

Owain watched Nick and his team fade away into the horizon as he walked with his team towards his own destination. It had taken many hours, but they had found their destination. They were taking a break at an outcropping set upon a plateau, and down below they could see the town. It was also a place where they couldn't easily be seen, and so they set up camp here. It was serenely beautiful, though the science officer that was with them was frowning, confirming his own set of suspicions.

"Sir, I'm not reading anything here. Not a sign of life. It's as if they just up and left…", the officer said while moving his tricorder around in different directions. "Nope, not a thing."

Owain rubbed at his chin and nodded, "A ghost town maybe?"

Uneasily the officer laughed, "Uh… maybe? Though I'm not detecting anything else, spirits or otherwise."

Owain shook his head, "Ghost towns are a term used back on Earth to describe towns that have been abandoned, for some reason or another. It doesn't necessarily mean there are spirits here. Besides, who's going to call us? We're not exactly busting ghosts here… I don't think that distress signal was meant for that."

"Right. Right", the officer said while nodding. "Well…."

Owain looked at Rynen, and Rynen had looked at him at the same time, intercepting his thought. The uneasy tension between the two that had started earlier didn't help. "Well, I suppose you want to take a closer look. But here's the deal. McCorski and I will lead from now on. We just can't take chances."

Owain nodded, "Fair enough. Lead on."

So, Owain and the science officer followed his security escort down to the town. It was exactly as what was described earlier in the mission briefing. A quaint western-style town that included everything one could need: A Pharmacy, a bar, a bank, a sherrif's office and…. a castle off in the distance? Owain raised his eyebrows at that, as he found it quite curious. Though whatever the state the town was in, it still seemed vacant, and it didn't sit well with Rynen.

"Feels like we're being watched. I don't like this, Captain. I think we should return."

Owain tried to reassure her. "I have to agree, it does feel like we're being watched, but we're here to do our mission. If we really are being watched, then maybe they'll come out and greet us…"

"Greet us, yeah, with sticks and stones.", she quipped, which ellicited a laugh from McCorski.

"Well, for what it's worth, I don't think there's anything here worth investigating", the science officer piped in. "Tricorder's still not reading anything. I agree with Ensign Dale. I think we should head back. Maybe we got the wrong planet. It's too eerily quiet."

As if on cue, a dried up part of vegetation commonly called tumbleweed, tumbled along in front of them. Alert and with an itchy trigger finger, McCorski shot at the tumbleweed, which sounded out a bang, with their modified phasers made to look like pistols. Afterwards, he put his pistol to his lips and blew the simulated smoke away from the barrel. "Whew, that was fun."

"You just wanted to kill something. Admit it, hot shot.", Rynen joked with a wink.

His team went back up to the outcropping and then tried to contact Nick. Owain was puzzled as they weren't getting any response back. "Ok, we head back. Either something's happened to them or they already went back and are waiting for us. Either way, they should have reported in.", he told them with a frown.

First they had decided to rest a bit before moving on. That had been their mistake however, as a bunch of beings had taken them by surprise. They tried to fight them off, but were outnumbered and overpowered. It was like Cowbows & Indians. One by one, they were dragged off, and what they never knew is that they would be starting new lives elsewhere…

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