Friends after All

Friends after All was a mission carried out by Deep Space 101 between stardates 12.1020 and 13.0225.

Senior staff

CO: Captain Alyza
FO/CSO: Commander Zachary Michael Hogan
CMO/a2O: Lieutenant JG Aniketos
CSciO: Lieutenant JG Lyte Roan
OPS: Lieutenant JG Nathan Cady
CEO: Lieutenant JG Shawn Day
ASO: Lieutenant JG Dryden Hakon
CNS: Ensign Jack Kersh
astOPS: Ensign Jenever Vana Tel'drak

Mission summary

written by Ruud Visser

After a mysterious attack on the station, repairs are underway and life is returning to normal. Outpost 108 calls and sends a data stream from a recent survey mission at the western edge of Dergrad space. One of the more interesting pieces of information is an unidentified ship going to warp in the as yet unexplored Cichoka system. The ship seems to have come from a warp capable civilization from the system's second planet, Cichoka II. After contacting the Fleet Admiral, Captain Alyza orders the preparation of the USS Hikaru for a first contact mission.

Captain Alyza herself is leading the mission, while Cmdr. Hogan stays in command of the station. Lts. Aniketos, Lyte, Cady, Day and Hakon go along as the ship's senior staff, with Ens. Tel'drak joining them as assistant OPS officer. Lt<jg> Vance Seelbinder will be aCSO, in the absence of an actual CSO. Aniketos will primarily be acting first officer, and CMO when possible. Hakon will double as ASO and aFCO, much to his own surprise.

Ambassador Arthur Grayson takes off to Cichoka as well aboard the runabout USS Neuse. Accompanying him are Lt. Richard Barnes (chief of staff), Alesia Corvelli (ambassador's aide and linguistic), Lt. Jason Corvelli (general support), Sporik (security officer), Elsworth Crane and Vedek Hylan (both civilian).

Apart from some initial conflict between Cady and JV, the trip proceeds without problems. As they near their destination, they pick up radio activity from the eighth planet. Cady is able to filter out a garbled distress call, that is just audible enough to tell them a ship has crashed. Alyza orders a detour past the eighth planet to investigate.

Arriving at the planet, the ship is caught in a gravimetric distortion. While aFCO Hakon tries to steer clear of the planet, sensors pick up a D-Warp shuttle. Aboard are their new CNS, Ens. Jackson Kersh, and the shuttle's pilot. The D-Warp gets stuck in the gravity well along with the Hikaru, and the two passengers are beamed aboard seconds before its hull is torn apart. The ambassador's shuttle is caught in as well, but Lt. Barnes's skills free it again.

The Hikaru is less fortunate. Despite a final effort to lock a tractor beam on the Neuse to help pull them out, the ship descends further and further, until it can no longer escape. Instead of helping out the crew of the ship that initially crashed, they go down themselves. As the smoke clears, the crew starts with an assessment of the situation. Unfortunately, Cichoka VIII is anything but hospitable, covered in a meters-thick layer of dust planet-wide. The Hikaru is buried in that dust for the most part.

Initial reports show that, while being extensive, the damage can be repaired to the point that the Hikaru can leave the planet on her own again. Those of the crew who haven't been injured too badly, either help in engineering with repairing the ship, or in sickbay with repairing the crew. Aniketos has dropped his FO activities for the moment and takes charge of sickbay. The newly arrived CNS uses his medical training to help.

JV Tel'drak is found badly injured behind the OPS console. Despite their initial argument, Cady is heart-wrenched with concern about her situation. She is taken to sickbay just in time for Aniketos to save her life.

Alyza orders Cady to go outside to repair some of the external damage. He uses a modified phaser beam to cut a straight-edged tunnel through the dust. He is actually enjoying himself, and finishes the repairs on the external sensor array. When he doesn't report back on the comms, Seelbinder is sent outside to investigate. He finds the young man, all shaking and catatonic. He takes him to sickbay, where Aniketos comes to the conclusion he has no physical trauma. Yet…

Meanwhile in outer space, Ambassador Grayson makes first contact with the three individuals from the civilization they set out to meet. They call themselves the Gortu, and the eighth planet is called Teronii. Apparently, this is the first time they have had contact with off-worlders. Unfortunately, their government doesn't want anything to do with aliens. The three Gortu can do nothing but invite Grayson to visit their planet nonetheless. As a sign of friendship, they share the information they have on Teronii, which will hopefully lead to a way to rescue the Hikaru. Lt. Barnes sends a distress call to DS101, and they await further assistance.

Unaware of the distress their colleagues are in, the station's new FO (LtCmdr. Udasi Ela-Han) and FCO (Lt<jg> John Yamaguchi-Stenner) arrive on DS101. After receiving the Neuse's distress call, they take a D-warp to the Cichoka system to offer assistance. Upon their arrival, Grayson & Co. return to DS101, because they can't help anymore with their badly damaged runabout.

Just on his way to the bridge, Dr. Aniketos is called back to sickbay because of complications with Cady. Purple spots have appeared all over his body, and the best hypothesis is an allergic reaction to something from outside the ship. Aniketos calls Seelbinder to sickbay as well. The CMO/aFO and CSciO Lyte Roan scan the environmental suits used by Cady and Seelbinder, and they find microfractures all over the one Cady has worn. Lyte also finds the compound that probably caused the purple spots. He takes it to the lab for further analysis, where they are able to get some answers. The compound discovered on the suits appears to be semi-organic, and able to change humanoid DNA to create new kinds of enzymes. One of those enzymes would be purple, and another is determined to be able to cut through an EVA suit.

Jack Kersh is keeping watch next to Cady's bed. His condition seems to be deteriorating, as his eyes have turned purple now as well. Jack suggests to Samantha (his D-warp pilot, with whom he's become good friends), that Cady may be possessed. When Aniketos returns to check on him, he seems to wake from his unconsciousness, but in fact it's the alien organisms that have taken over his body. Subconsciously, Cady is aware of how the voices inside him calm down after a while, to die out completely. Apart from the voices, Cady was witnessing memories from throughout his life, including from his birth. After waking up from his delirium, Kersh sets out to help him cope with these 'dreams'. JV's concern for Cady is growing as well, and she regrets not being able to do anything for him.

In the lab, Lt. Lyte finishes analyzing the tissue samples taken from Cady and reports his results to Aniketos. It is still unclear if Cady was actually being possessed, or if he was hallucinating. They decide to collect a sample of the dust outside for further study. The dust appears to be a silica based life form, able to manipulate normal (carbon based) DNA, like Cady's. They compose a cure to counteract the effects of the dust, and Cady starts to recuperate from the remaining symptoms. Meanwhile, he and JV make up for their earlier arguments and harsh words. After some sleep, Cady is relieved to see the purple spots are gone. He says 'the souls were destroyed,' although he can't recall saying that afterwards.

With the repairs well underway, Captain Alyza decides it is time to attempt to complete their rescue mission. A shuttle containing Aniketos, Seelbinder, Hakon and an engineer is sent to investigate the other crashed ship and assist where needed. Upon arrival, they are surprised to find all corridors are about the size of a Jeffries tube, with the ship's crew of matching height. They scan seventeen life signs in one of the larger rooms, and beam over, only to receive a far from friendly greeting. The miniature aliens deny their assistance, leaving the away team no other choice than to beam back to their shuttle. During the beam-out, the aliens hold Aniketos aboard and take him hostage.

In the meantime, CEO Day has modified the EVA suits to keep the dust outside. Lt. Lyte oversees additional external repairs. Everything is going well, until they loose contact with two of the repair team, Robir and Jenkins. Lyte stumbles across Robir's dead body, and is disgusted by its severely maimed state. Alyza orders him to come back inside, not willing to risk his life in searching Jenkins.

Lt. Cady is working on repairs close to the hull, and is pulled outside when something cuts through the hull. Due to his earlier exposure, he is able to survive without EVA suit. Somehow, he feels the need to go away from the ship. He finds Jenkins, and starts dragging him back to the ship. After a while, the voices return to his mind, and he learns a lot from the beings. He is finally rescued by a search party headed by Lyte, who has taken a shuttle to locate him and Jenkins.

Seelbinder, Hakon and the engineer start working on a way to get their FO back aboard the shuttle. They aren't able to break the transport inhibitor field, until they try to work with the field instead of against it. They find a way to penetrate the field, only to find a secondary shield behind it. Seelbinder carries on with plan B, and takes a vial of the antidote used on Cady. The secondary shield is only around the room Aniketos is in, and Seelbinder beams over to the environmental controls. He distributes the antidote throughout the ship, and returns to the shuttle. Not much later, they hail the aliens, and this time they get a response. After some apologies from the aliens, Aniketos is returned.

Unfortunately, the aliens performed heavy surgery on him while they were under the influence of something 'purple'. Dryden Hakon flies back to the Hikaru as quickly as possible, where Aniketos is treated by the medical staff. He is left with temporary paralysis in his legs, but will make a full recovery within a day or two.

During the time Cady and Aniketos were recovering, an engineering team has helped the midget aliens with repairs to their ship, and they can leave on their own now. The Hikaru is also ready to go, and Dryden carefully lifts it off the surface. The ship makes it into orbit without problems, and holds position on a safe distance from the gravity well. Before proceeding, the new FO and FCO are welcomed aboard. Lts. Lyte and Day receive orders to take their shuttle and report to SB Omega for reassignment. More new personnel arrive in the form of Ensigns Marie-Josée Villeray (new CSciO) and Goose (new CSO), both fresh from the Academy.

The ship proceeds to the system's second planet, where they will start a distant survey mission, honoring the government's wish of having no contact. Even more personnel changes take place when the FO and FCO are recalled to Omega for reassignment. Lt<jg> Aniketos is promoted to be the station's acting first officer, pending CGT. He chooses to focus entirely on his new job and leaves sickbay for someone else to control. Ens. Villeray is reassigned as CMO, because of her medical preferences over the sciences.

After making sure it won't be detected, a probe is sent out to gather more information on the Gortu civilization. Kersh and Hakon compose preliminary anthropological reports, while Goose assesses the potential dangers. On one of the sensor readouts, the CSO spots what looks like a high-tech craft coming from the planet's atmosphere. However, without any further information, there is nothing they can do.

While they continue monitoring the activities on the planet, a major earthquake strikes. As the Gortu are an amphibious species, a large portion of the planet's surface is in fact swampland. A big chunk of swamp has apparently sunk back into the sea, with casualties numbering in the thousands. Supported by the fact that the Gortu who made contact with Ambassador Grayson had never been identified as legitimate representatives of the government, Captain Alyza decides to contact the planet and offer assistance.

They are patched through to President Akamai, elected leader of the planet. He doesn't seem to be as xenophobic as described previously to Grayson. After a friendly introduction, he welcomes the help offered to him and agrees to a small team beaming down. Alyza, Cady, Villeray, Goose and a security detachment transport over to the planet. After the official first contact, the team splits up to maximize the effect of their help.

While Cady and Villeray meet with government representatives to assess the situation, Alyza stays behind with the President to discuss the planet's situation. To create more land to live on, the Gortu have regained swampland from the seas. The earthquake struck one of such areas, and the danger exists that more land will be flooded if the tide isn't stopped in time. In addition to the earthquake, the planet has had to cope with increasing concentrations of methane, which has been emerging from the swamps over the years.

Cady and Villeray are caught by surprise by a news reporter, who does a live interview with Cady. During the interview, which is broadcasted all over the planet, the reporter voices the rumor that the Hikaru actually caused the earthquake, rather than coincidentally being there. Cady strongly denies this, telling the Federation is all about peaceful exploration and helping others. After the interview, Dr. Villeray heads off with a Gortu doctor to discuss the kind of medical supplies they'll be sending.

In the meantime, the USS Zahal has arrived as requested to deliver the runabout Atlantis, which is capable of underwater flight. The captain and CSO return to the Hikaru, just in time to catch the interview with Cady. Alyza sends JV (who has received much more diplomatic training than Cady) to the planet to help the young officer. She returns to the planet herself as well, this time in the Atlantis, to stabilize the tectonic plates and create a wall against the tide. On their way to the disaster area, they are attacked by three small ships. They manage to fight them off, or rather, they are lucky to receive help from another vessel.

When the attacking ships have been destroyed, the fourth vessel hails the Atlantis and the Hikaru. It's President Akamai, who explains the attackers were part of a xenophobic extremist group. The President had hoped the offer of help was enough for this group to be convinced of the Hikaru's good intentions, but it apparently wasn't. In an effort to convince them after all, Aniketos suggests a method to remove excess methane from the planet's atmosphere. Akamai accepts, and preparations begin. After some minor repairs, the Atlantis is able to continue its work as well.

Using a modified tractor beam, most of the methane is replaced with harmless nitrogen gas from a neighboring planet. The Atlantis successfully prevents subsequent earthquakes in the disaster area. Unfortunately, the CMO has gone missing in the meantime. She doesn't answer any hails, and no-one knows exactly what situation she's in. The Hikaru's sensors locate her amidst a group of Gortu, and Aniketos has her beamed back to the ship. She arrives in mid-sentence, and explains she was kidnapped by the same extremist group that attacked the Atlantis. Fortunately, the government had expected such an action, and were awaiting the kidnappers at their base of operations. When she regained consciousness, her comm badge was missing, and she had no way of contacting the ship anymore. After receiving a new comm badge, she returns to the planet to finish her work there.

With all resistance from the less open-minded Gortu out of the way, the relief mission proceeds rapidly. It isn't long before the Hikaru crew has done all they can, and the time to depart arrives. After the usual diplomatic meetings with various people from the government, the crew says goodbye to their new friends and heads back to DS101.

Promotions

Lieutenant JG Aniketos: promoted to acting first officer
Ensign Jack Kersh: promoted to Lieutenant JG

Awards

Captain Alyza: Picard Medal of Honor

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