Cadet Orila Karai
Orila’s stomach twisted around, feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation, as she headed through the shuttle’s rear hatch. Today was the first time that she had been sent out on a solo assignment, and she wanted to prove herself not only to those at the academy but also to herself. She made her way through to the cockpit and took the pilot’s seat, closed her eyes and took a breath. A moment later and her eyes jolted open, Ori was ready to get to work. Her hands flew over the console and the shuttle began to power up, lights activating throughout the Type 9 shuttle.
With the pre-flight checks completed, Ori was ready to start launch preparations. A strand of chestnut brown hair fell across her face as she leaned forward to tap the comm, “Cadet Karai of Shuttlecraft Pleiades requesting permission to take off”.
A moment later the comm sprang to life, the voice of the control tower operator coming through. “Roger Shuttlecraft Pleiades. Cleared for takeoff. Safe travels.”
Ori glanced down at the console as she gently slid her hand in a downwards motion on the panel. A moment later and the deck plating began to vibrate beneath Ori’s feet as she increased power to the shuttle’s thrusters. Her eyes skimmed over the dashboard, double checking the shuttle’s readouts as she crawled towards the shimmering blue forcefield. Through the window, Ori was able to glimpse the deck below her, currently a hive of activity.
She returned his attention to the dashboard just as the shuttle passed through the force field, out into the black expanse of space. Much like the interior of the starbase, the exterior was a hub of activity, with ships of varying sizes navigating their way around the space surrounding Starbase Bravo.
Glancing out of the cockpit windows once again, although this time to ensure the area was clear, Ori caught sight of a Galaxy-class starship, dwarfed by the bulk of the station. She shifted in the seat slightly, finding a more comfortable position as the shuttle glided past several other starships of various classes and sizes.
A few minutes later a notification popped up on the display indicating that the shuttle was now clear of the starbase and its traffic. Ori’s fingers tapped on the console as she entered a series of commands. A couple of seconds later and a map of the area appeared on the display, a dotted red line showing her route. Ori double-checked the route, and confident that everything was correct, she plotted her course to the Ulea system.
A recent Federation settlement on the planet had gone silent and Ori had been dispatched to ascertain what had happened. On the surface it sounded routine, fly there and make contact. Given how new the colony was, it was likely that they had simply experienced some form of a technical malfunction that had prevented them from communicating. In the event that a major incident had occurred, Starfleet had informed Ori that a Nebula-class starship was in a nearby system and would be available to render any aid if needed.
Ori settled into the seat as she activated the warp drive. The shuttle began to faintly hum and a moment later jumped forward, stars whizzing past the cockpit. Ori decided to use the time to read a little more about the settlement on Ulea. The first settlers had set up a mining colony on Ulea around 6 months ago, after the discovery of rich mineral deposits on the surface.
It didn’t take long for the shuttle to reach its destination, the brown-hued planet appearing before Ori as the shuttle dropped out of warp. She pushed herself up in the seat and checked the sensor readouts. Nothing immediately flagged, but Ori knew better than to be complacent. She tapped a few commands on the console and waited.
“Okay, nothing showing on sensor sweeps, no comm traffic in the area” she muttered to herself “Life signs on the surface, that’s something at least”.
Happy that there wasn’t some unseen danger lurking in orbit around Ulea, Ori increased power to the thrusters and began the journey towards the colony.
As the shuttle neared the colony’s location, Ori made a pass and glanced out of the window, checking for anything odd or unusual. She felt her stomach tighten, the entire colony looked desolate, like it had been abandoned in a hurry. Equipment was strewn all over the floor and despite sensors picking up life signs, Ori didn’t see anything. She activated the long-range comm and provided a status report to the starbase, before setting the shuttle down with a gentle thud on the outskirts of the settlement.
Ori closed her eyes and took a deep breath before rising from the chair and headed to the storage locker. She grabbed a tricorder and erring on the side of caution, a phaser, something she hoped she wouldn’t have to use.
She cast her eyes around, making a visible inspection of the area as she stepped out of the shuttle. With no immediate threats, Ori walked over to the nearest building, noting the only sound was of wind rustling through the trees, no animals, no insects. Ori took another quick scan of the area with the tricorder, three red blips appearing on the screen indicating nearby life signs, although interference from the mineral deposits made it difficult to identify any further details.
Her fingers wrapped around the handle of her phaser as she placed her other hand on the door to the building and pushed it open, revealing a large space. Three windows allowed daylight to filter through, highlighting the particles of dust floating in the air. She glanced around, finding the room empty and set her tricorder to a passive scan, configuring it to alert her to any nearby bio signs. She moved further into the room, her eyes darting around, searching for signs of what may have happened.
Ori descended further into the building, finding room after room empty, with no signs of the colonists other than equipment and a few personal effects being scattered around. Ori found the experience unnerving and jumped out of her skin when her tricorder emitted a beeping sound - a bio sign was nearby. She came to a halt and held up the tricorder to check the readings.
“Single bio sign, erratic readings. Brilliant.”