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Captain Halloway

Assessing Threat: The Athra

The following is a joint log, based on an exchange between Commander Chirakis and myself in the Aegis brig, but not expanded in the earlier logs...

The Sovereign-class starship Yorktown floated in its assigned parking berth near Sky Harbor Aegis. Within the forward-most cabin of Deck 4, Captain Halloway sat on the cushioned piano bench, leaning against the Steinway as he absently plunked out the right hand of Dunbar's Racing Rhapsody. He cupped his face in his left hand as he read from the wide-panel display above the keyboard, an innovation that let him practice while reading reports and kept him from constantly flipping music sheets.


The command situation on the station was untenable, but he remained at a loss how to improve it.


He had left word with Subcommander Jorahl, desiring to speak with him at a time that would not conflict with his duties as chief engineer and acting exec. He was still awaiting the Romulan's convenience.


In the meantime, he reflected on the threat assessment he had received from Commander Chirakis. A tactical image of the ships that had attacked Aegis rotated nearest his face. He raised his hand from the keys, swept the image to the right and summoned a recording from his visit with Chirakis in the station brig. Such recordings were standard procedure -- except of course between a prisoner and counsel, when they were illegal -- so he'd requested a copy before returning to Yorktown.


He scrolled through the video, looking for the right time index. "Computer, commence playback," he instructed, finding the right moment. He flipped down the keyboard cover and leaned on it, listening.


Onscreen, Chirakis narrowed her eyes. "What prompted the attack, we..." she paused to correct herself, "...
are still trying to determine." Her expression changed, showing some surprise. "What do you know about the Athra?"


"These attackers?" he heard himself say. "Nothing more than the tactical displays I saw from the station logs. There's history?" He remembered wondering at the time why Drankum hadn't used their dinner to elaborate on the aggressors.

"There is
history," she insisted, "more legend than anything else, but legend always has some truth to it." Onscreen, he noticed she'd shifted to a formal posture. "Some time ago I was dispatched to investigate a planet on the remote edge of Breen space, near Beta Piscis."
One of the regions
didn't pass through in the last eight months
, he noted to himself, still watching.

"During my investigation the planet's mythology caught my interest, especially stories surrounding a creature they called the Athra. They were similar those of the Great Carnivorous Rastipod or your species' legendary tales of the Yeti, Sasquach, or the Abominable Snowman."

Onscreen, he saw his head nod.


Chirakis went on. "The Athra of legend is a giant space-faring creature that moved from planet to planet, bearing young that took what they needed and left little behind. Their young were described as having a crust of exceptional strength with an inseparable internal body structure. I thought the stories interesting, but nothing beyond that. Until a clansman offered to show me the remains of one he had found."


"And he made good on his claims?" his voice asked onscreen.


The Bajoran commander shrugged. "I had nothing better to do. The remains were on a nearby asteroid. They were remarkably like the creatures that attacked Aegis. Exterior like duranium, interior body structure integrated to the hull, no communication array, impressive weapons - some of which I had never come across. It had deteriorated, of course, but was... remarkably similar to the creature that crashed into the Midway during the first attack."


He remembered she had fixed a hard gaze on him. "If you have not already done so, you must get the tactical information on these creatures from our database. They are superior in every way, they communicate with their base ship through telepathy - or something similar - and they are excellent strategists. They will not make the same errors twice. And they come from the direction of Breen space." She stopped there, her eyes still fixed on him, the implication clear.

There was a long pause, during which he made the conscious choice not to discuss details about
and the order to go into Breen space. He knew Chirakis was aware of his mission, but it was not the time and place to elaborate on his previous reports - she and Drankum would both have seen earlier transmissions.


"That doesn't leave Aegis in a promising defensive position, does it?" he heard himself say.


"It does not," Chirakis answered.

"Pause playback," he ordered. He glanced to the right and the spinning image of the Athra ship. Chirakis seemed convinced that the station could not hold against a coordinated attack from these beings, unless they could find some weakness. The presence of Yorktown and Odyssey did not dissuade her.


With an uncertain power struggle and a divided crew, such lifesaving discoveries remained unlikely at Sky Harbor Aegis. He shifted to one elbow, gazing out at the starfield beyond his cabin viewports. Was this a problem that needed to be met out there before it came looking back here?


He was never one for waiting.


"Sabrina," he summoned, tapping his communicator as he got to his feet. "Meet me in stellar cartography. I want to see everything we have on Beta Piscis."

Edited by Captain Halloway

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