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Catch Me If You Can {backstory pt. 1}

Posted on Fri Oct 16th, 2015 @ 4:29am by Lieutenant JG Ricki St. Louis
Edited on on Fri Oct 16th, 2015 @ 3:12pm

Mission: Blooming Friendships
Location: Pargellis Star System


The Pargellis System had its hands full, during this season. Several merchant convoys had arrived at the same time. Dockyards were overflowing. Customs officials were pulling their hair out, trying to screen out hazardous or black market goods. Commerce was thriving, so the mood was generally festive.

In the solarian Space Traffic Control, a supervisor enjoyed a sentimental, amused smile at observing neophyte operators. Nervousness over the new prevailed, and they focused upon mundane traffic with youthful intensity.

The Ranged Officer, or RO, spotted a sensor blip, "Ooo! Looks like a fighter formation inbound at extreme range."

The supervisor leaned in over his shoulder, "Hmh... no tag. Unregistered flight. Starfleet is pretty good about announcing approach, but they usually like to come in on their own. Don't count on them accepting a landing vector."

"Aye, Sir." The curious apprentice decided to direct long range scanners. "Wow... they are fighters, but they're doing a terrible job, holding formation." He smiled, "Look at that!"

Upon observing the zoom-in, the supervisor shook his head in mild disbelief, "They're holding formation like noobs in flight school."

The squadron approaching the Pargellis System had only one remaining pilot who wasn't in a coma. Lt. Jg. Ricki St. Louis gasped in agony as she fought to hold the entire formation together at maximum warp speed. Severe fatigue had brought her to the threshold of unconsciousness. Multiple cockpit alarms beeped and blinked red.


In the control center, the supervisor quieted. He pointed, "Comm, give me a deepspace link to those inbound."

"Sir, I'm only receiving transponder response. No voice."

"Give me that." He patched in and spoke through his headset, "Pargellis Traffic Control to inbound flight on 232, please respond." There was no answer. He sighed with frustration, "Come on, flight! I'm breaking in trainees on their first day. Give us a little help, here." There was still no answer. "What are they doing? They look like a bunch of drunks."

One of the young geeks lit up, "Sir! If transponders are active, I can pass a local alert code to them. Maybe their flight computers will talk to us."


The operator became unsettled, "No, this can't be right. Sir, according to the reflex signal, that flight is coming directly from Adirkal!"

The supervisor smiled sheepishly, "Now way. That's impossible. That's a marathon and a half from here." Studying the erratic formation, he sighed and squinted, "This is crazy. Comm, elevate contact priority. Demand an answer."

Aboard her ship, Ricki could hear distant voices, but she couldn't focus enough to understand them. In the other fighters, pilots stared in catatonic shock.

The traffic geek announced, "Sir, their computer is allowing diagnostic queries. It looks... one of the pilots is flashing critical health condition, status: incapacitated."

The supervisor nodded, "Comm, pass a call to E-Station do dispatch a medic to their landing spot."

The geek nervously shook his head, "Sir! Their nav computer has no landing spot designated!... Only planetary approach!"

The lead tensed, "Query all of the inbound craft, pilot statuses."

Sensor operators reported, "Sir, they're not slowing down. At this speed, they'll hit system boundary in two minutes."

The geek announced, "Second pilot, coma! Third pilot, coma!" Results blinked on the console for all the rest of the pilots. "SIR! They only have ONE left!"

"Oh my God... E-Station! SCRAMBLE!"

The operators calmed a bit and settled into training responses, "Vectoring outer patrols."

"Sir, only one fighter will intercept in time!"

Hitting full wartime engine boost, a Pargellian patrol craft swept into the formation with a pursuit curve. Coordinating sensor readings with Control, he pulled along side the one functional pilot. He listened to regular collision warning beeps as planes in the formation drifted into his flight path. Looking into the cockpit, he saw a full black tech helmet. His radio calls went unanswered, as did his rescue navigation override requests. "Come on! You have GOT to drop out of warp!"

There was no response. Indeed, it looked like the pilot didn't even notice him.

As a last resort, he fired bursts with his pulse phasers. The flashes caught the attention he sought. He gestured frantically through his canopy the motion of yanking the warp throttle back, "DROP... OUT... OF... WARP!"

In her ship, Ricki perceived a fighter bearing system markings. With her last conscious thought, she ordered, ~Flight group... engage mode Alpha.~

The squadron fell out of warp. No longer under propulsion, planes hurled ballistic, tumbling end over end. Sharing a collective sigh of deep relief, the controller supervisor vectored in emergency services vehicles. They grappled the fighters and then raced to space dock.

Summoned by the alert, a senior commander entered the control center. "Status!"

"Under control, Sir."

"What happened?"

"You're not going to believe this, but fighters made a nonstop flight from Adirkal, apparently on manual control."

"Not possible." At receiving raised-brow nods, he watched the inbound rescuers on the big screen. "Okay. I'll start rattling the command chain to find out what on earth is going on." He gave a nod, "Good job, everyone."

After the commander departed, the supervisor smiled, "All right, everyone. Traffic never stops! Back to it!"



Lt. Jg. Ricki St. Louis
Starbase 332
Pegasus Fleet


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