P-409 SIGMA – While attempting to retrieve missing colleagues, the crew of the USS Blackwell made a series of startling discoveries, including uncovering the presence of a cloaked Romulan vessel.
As efforts to communicate with the landing party continued to fail, the senior staff onboard began to look for other avenues of progress. A particularly well-worded question from Commander Theo Whittaker provided crucial information as to the nature of the threat they were facing: it shared characteristics with a previously encountered interphasic rift, last recorded in 2269 as being responsible for the loss of the USS Defiant (NCC-1764). With this information, Commander Lluneh Walker and her engineering staff began focusing their efforts on physically retrieving the missing starship crews.
Meanwhile, tensions rose between the Blackwell and their Klingon allies aboard the IKS Gik’tal. Already dishonoured by their orders to work with a hospital ship, Commander Merzan angrily looked to take matters into her own hands. Swift diplomatic action on Lieutenant Commander Mirra Ezo’s part helped to avoid a conflict before it began.
While Walker and her staff had been successfully conceiving of a way to enter the anomaly and then rescue their stranded crew, Ensign Carl Ramirez realized that the anomaly itself was beginning to close and would shut for an unspecified amount of time in under three hours. Caught by surprise, Lieutenant Commander Shayne, acting as the temporary First Officer, ordered Walker to prepare to implement whatever solution she had available – a course of action supported by Whittaker upon his eventual return to the bridge. In a surprising turn of events, Merzan of the Gik’tal offered, even insisted, on accompanying Walker on the undeniably dangerous voyage through the rift.
As Ramirez, along with Lieutenant Mandak and Lieutenant Danni James, struggled to keep the anomaly open for as long as possible, a particularly strong sensing beam, released by the Blackwell revealed a disruption extremely close to the anomaly. Whittaker, employing a sound strategy, ordered that three warheads be fired from the Blackwell, and be set to act like flairs. The tactic succeeded, revealing the presence of a cloaked Romulan vessel. The coincidence was too much to take at face value, and Whittaker ordered Shayne to take a small boarding team to find out what information the Romulans had that might be helpful in retrieving their missing personnel.
As the boarding took place, sensors began detecting oddities in the structure of the planetoid they orbited, revealing strange, unnatural properties and proportions not commonly found in nature. What role these findings have in their current predicament is anyone’s guess.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said a member of the Blackwell crew, who asked to remain anonymous. “We’d all thought they [the Romulans] had left the Expanse, but looks like we were wrong. I don’t like it, not one bit.”
When approached, a spokesman for Praetor Taron of the Romulan Star Empire declined to comment, stating, “They do not discuss military matters.”
Written by Randal Shayne