<USS Banshee> "Searching for Shadows"

  • From: "Brad Ruder" <GroundZero@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ussbanshee@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 17:45:20 -0700

?Searching for Shadows?
by Lieutenant Joshua Asper

Both FIB-3 Compact Subatomic Unified Energy Impulse Units were brought on-line as Josh?s eyes danced over the cockpit, which was infested with a number of consoles and keyboards, gauges and readouts, and the primary sensor screen that was housed directly in front of him and operated as his primary keyboard.

The engines hummed to life like someone had awakened a beast or animal from a long slumber. Feeling the immense power at his fingertips, Josh slowly jabbed at the keyboard and brought the engines through their startup cycles. Josh lowered the visor on his flight helmet, which contained it?s own smaller sensor screen.

?Asper to Bridge.?

?Andros here, go ahead Lieutenant.?

?I?m ready to go, permission to launch.? Josh read again through his preflight checklist that always stood ready and handy in his right flight jacket pocket. After all, you never know what looking at it twice could do for you.

?Permission granted.? Andros? voice echoed throughout the tiny cockpit. Josh waved back the people that ran frantically around the small Shogun Fighter. The ladders and things of that nature were pulled back. Josh gazed across the bay to Ensign Kaiden tol?Cemmen who had just started out of the bay. He had felt bad about dismissing her so quickly, but he was so enthusiastic about flying solo that he had hurried her along in her required inspection of the spacecraft.

?Computer, being flight log on Shogun Fighter Six. Pilot is Lieutenant Joshua Asper.?

?Acknowledged.? The computer?s ever-dull voice responded as it clicked and beeped in acceptance of his order. ?Flight log in progress.?

?Activating anti-grav hovering pylons.? Tapping the buttons, Josh felt the fighter slowly rise off the ground and the feeling of freedom overwhelmed him for a blink of an eye before he could pull himself back to reality. The fighter sat there, motionless, just meters above the metallic flooring of the fighterbay.

?Activating emergency launching forcefield.? The blue haze transcended upon the fighterbay door that loomed in front of the less-formidable vessel. The door was a pure tritanium-duratanium alloy and couldn?t be destroyed unless you blew it up with a quantum torpedo. He did have quantum torpedo box launchers on board, but found it to be a waste of ammunition. ?Opening fighterbay doors.?

As the doors rose to reveal the emptiness of space, Josh suddenly felt his freedom dwindle into a feeling of being inferior and small compared to the abyss that lay before him. Josh smiled as he tapped the impulse engines into their lowest setting, ?Setting speed, one-sixteenth impulse.? The craft slowly glided from the fighterbay of the Banshee and into the open space. Josh turned the craft up and away, veering slightly starboard to move around the Banshee so that he would be as far away from the Cardassian freighter as possible.

?Increasing speed, one-half impulse. Heading, 154 point 7 mark 6.?

His gaze drifting to the Banshee, Josh realized what a marvelous ship he served upon. It?s outer hull shined brightly as the rays of sunshine impacted it?s metal exterior. The glare almost blinded him, but the visor provided the necessary blockage and Josh turned his head to focus on the task at hand.

Cardassia loomed in his port window. The Class-M planet was just as blue and green as Earth was, but lacked that vital feeling of home and security. The continents were shaped and positioned in disarray and littered the surface like finger-paints on a single sheet of paper. The planet seemed to be so peaceful and calm for such a violent and savage raced that occupied its surface.

Josh?s thoughts drifted to those that still lingered in the corridors and the rooms of the Banshee. They were all alone out here in the middle of Cardassian space, and to top it all off they had little chance of aid if anything were to happen. Josh thought of the immense responsibility that ever sole onboard the ship was undertaking. They risked their lives on a daily basis, and rarely did you hear anyone complain. Well, all except for Ibu Profen, but that was another story.

The homeworld of the Cardassians slowly seceded from view and disappeared into a simple blip in his aft scanner. The sensors focused in on his next goal, the Class-H moon that orbited Cardassia. The atmosphere was harsh, but still was able to support life. ?Slowing speed to one-fourth impulse, activating full sensor sweep of the northeastern hemisphere.?

The readouts buzzed with activity as useless information ? useless for it wasn?t anything that dealt with the location of the elusive Peregrine ? filtered in and instantly downloaded into his data banks for later deciphering. The northeastern hemisphere wasn?t populated, was mostly rocky outcroppings on the side of a mountain that rose higher than any mountain on Earth. There weren?t any sources of water and there were a couple of volcanic vents. Needless to say, the population consisted of rock, more rock, and then some volcanic rock.

?Changing sensor parameters to the southeastern hemisphere.? Josh was sure that he?d find something somewhere on such a large mass of matter that orbited the planet. The Peregrine?s extrapolated trajectory was someone on this rock, and he intended on finding it. ?Computer, have sensors picked up anything that may resemble a Peregrine-class fighter??

?Negative, nothing inorganic has been picked up on sensors.?

?Damn. Changing parameters, again, to encompass the northwestern hemisphere.? Again Josh tapped his console and activated his long-range sensors. The sweeps whipped over the surface of the moon several times, all returning the same lack of location that Josh had feared. It wasn?t aggravating him; he was just hoping that something would come up. As missile silo, an ammunitions dump, a secret Tal Shiar facility, anything that would allow him to power up his weapons systems.

Laughing to himself Josh called up the weapons inventory. Four Type-VIII Collimated Phaser Arrays, 9 MK-120 Quantum Torpedo Box Launchers, and 4 MK-25 Direct-Fire Photon/Quantum Microtorpedo Tubes with 12 Microtorpedo cartridges per tube ? it was enough to wipe out a small planet. Josh sure that no one would miss this moon that proved to be about as interesting as a Vulcan funeral dirge. The oceans may flood the planet?s surface, but who would miss a couple million Cardassians? Josh was sure that the Federation would conveniently ?overlook? the infraction.

Shaking off his violent thoughts against the spoonheads, Josh turned his attention to the never-ending supply of useless information that poured from every console in his cockpit. Josh adjusted his course to move him into range for his final sensor sweep. ?Initiating final scan of the moon?s surface, southwestern hemisphere.?

?Scan of the moon is complete.?

?Computer, analyze the results and compare them to the materials used to construct a normal Peregrine-class fighters. Is a Peregrine-class fighter located on the moon?s surface??

The computer?s dry voice engaged in response; ?Inconclusive results.?

?Computer, increase analyzing program of sensor results to class four. Now is there a Peregrine-class fighter on the surface?? Josh was growing tired of arguing with the computer; he always lost because it would never get tired of dealing with him and would always offer the heartless and monotone voice to any question he?d ask.

?No Peregrine-class fighter was detected on the surface of the moon.?

Just deactivated his long-range sensors and retracted the array into the belly of the craft. Josh maneuvered the craft in a circle and set course back the ship. ?Computer, run a multi-layered subspace scan and monitor all frequencies for any unidentified warp signatures.? Josh was hoping that his last scan would allow him to open a door to where the Peregrine fighter went. Something was suspicious about the sudden disappearance of the vessel, something that just didn?t seem to make sense. ?Computer, are there any warp signatures detectable on subspace??

?Negative, no warp signatures have been detected.?

?Are you saying that the Peregrine fighter remained at impulse??

?Unable to comprehend, please restate inquiry.? Josh hung his head and then smiled, sometimes he thought that the computer knew physically who he was and made sure that everything he asked wasn?t exact enough. He figured that the computer would mock him out of spite.

Josh increased the speed of the shogun fighter as it zipped through space towards home. His first solo mission in the fighter proved uneventful and, as he saw it, a complete waste of time. Then again it still troubled him about the location of the ghost ship. Josh realized, and faced the superstition that it may have been just that, a ghost ship.

On the other hand, Josh knew that it really was a ship. He was going to found out who it was and what they were after, not to mention the fact that he?d track down every last location that the Peregrine could have gone. Josh refused to accept the fact that it was all a witch-hunt; something was wrong ? really wrong.

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