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Rated: E · Fiction · Action/Adventure · #2227043
EPISODE II: Part VI - the evidence mounts / approaching Luyten b
Part VI





Stardate: Nov. 28, 2096


The Stargazer continued onward toward Luyten b, drawing closer by the hour. The on duty conning officer and bridge crew were under orders to remain vigilant regarding the starship’s propulsion monitors. Deviation beyond the previous anomalous readings were to be reported to and acknowledged by engineering, followed by a notification alert to the Captain and First Officer.

Captain Foxwell entered his ready room to a standing audience of his senior officers, a briefing ordered after conclusion of the requisition and logistics review in engineering. The positive atmosphere which defined the initial mission conference attended by the starship’s department heads was now dampened by the dual tragedy befalling Leia and her father, and to a lesser extent the Stargazer’s engineering problems.

“Please be seated,” the Captain directed. He turned toward Beta and nodded. She pushed the power button on the ready room monitors and repositioned the screens.

“This briefing is for the benefit of Dr. Rivera and Chief Security Officer Warwick,” Beta began. After replaying the security video and providing a short synopsis of the previous meeting in engineering, Rivera and Warwick both agreed the person in the video was, in fact, Professor Adana’s daughter, Leia Athena.

Foxwell continued. “We know Leia took custody of properly requisitioned rilidium circuit boards bound for the Stargazer using false identification, posing as an authorized member of Galactic Fleet Logistics. There was no discrepancy regarding later delivery and receipt of those same boards.”

The senior officers looked around, exchanging glances occasionally during the briefing. They were clearly befuddled to learn Leia was somehow connected with the circuit board failures, and possibly the death of her father.

Beta stood. “Operational Support in San Francisco has confirmed no abnormal rilidium circuit board failures in Starships that requisitioned and replaced boards during repairs or while in space dock.” The science officer tapped the appropriate icon on the monitor, the subspace message appearing on screen corroborating her statement.

“Which means Stargazer is the only affected Starship,” Foxwell added.

“But why, Captain?” Chief Security Officer Warwick asked, his puzzled look mirroring the thoughts of the other senior officers.

Foxwell looked around his ready room. “That’s exactly what I intend to find out,” he replied, turning in the direction of his second officer. 


“Beta, when will we reach Luyten b?”

“At present course and speed — 3 hours, 16 minutes.”

Foxwell pivoted toward Rivera. “What is Leia’s current medical condition, doctor?”

“Still sedated. She should be well enough for questioning tomorrow.”

“Foxwell turned and glanced at his Chief Security Officer. “Lieutenant Warwick, gather a security team and proceed to the shuttle bay. The geologists and mining engineers have their labs set-up in that area. I want you and your officers to conduct a thorough search of Leia’s geological instruments, to include field supplies and lab equipment.”

“Aye, Captain, on my way,” Warwick replied as he hurriedly exited the ready room.

Beta locked eyes with Foxwell. “Captain, I have completed my review of Geologist personnel files per your previous order. I would strongly advise Doctor Zara Veillon, a Geophysicist, accompany the security team.”

Foxwell returned an inquisitive look. “Why that particular scientist?”

“Other than Leia and the late Professor Adana, she is the most qualified of three geologists reviewed regarding knowledge and handling of rilidium and rilidium ore,” Beta answered.

Foxwell nodded. “Agreed — see to it Doctor Veillon is made aware.”

“Captain, with your permission, I will accompany Mr. Warwick and the security team to the shuttle bay. I will inform Zara Veillon of her new duties.”

“Make it so, commander,” Foxwell acknowledged, turning toward his assembled senior officers. “This meeting is concluded. Report back to your departments and make preparations for arrival to Luyten b.”

The Captain and his first officer were the last to exit the ready room; rather than return to his command chair, Foxwell began to pace slowly around the circular bridge platform, an observation not lost on his science officer.

Just as Beta reached the turbo elevator, she turned and momentarily gazed at the Captain. She motioned for the other senior officers to proceed without her, turning and walking toward Foxwell. He stopped as she approached him.

“May I request that you accompany me back to the ready room, Captain?”

Foxwell pursed his lips, then sighed. “Of course,” he whispered, the captain politely extending his arm.

The automatic doors closing behind them, Foxwell and Beta stood next to the compact oval table. The small space was designed to double as a conference room.

What is it, Beta?” Foxwell inquired.

A pause. “Captain, is it your belief Leia deliberately sabotaged the rilidium circuit boards, and that she is responsible for the death of her father?”

Before he could answer, the ready room comm panel emitted an audible hailing signal.

“Ready room, this is Foxwell.”

“Captain — Lt. Warwick. I’m in the shuttle bay with my security team. Can you join me here, sir?”

“Find something, Lieutenant?”

“Aye Captain, we’ve made an interesting discovery. I believe you need to see this.”

“Very well. Is Geophysicist Veillon in the Shuttle Bay?”

“Negative sir. Her colleagues believe she may be in her quarters.”

“On my way,” Foxwell replied. The Captain glanced back at Beta. “Find Zara Veillon and meet me in the shuttle bay.”

Shuttle bay:

“This is what we uncovered, Captain,” Lt. Warwick announced, directing Foxwell toward a workbench. On top of the bench were two metallic boxes, each with a hinged top and flip latch in front; both were secured with small, titanium padlocks.

Foxwell grabbed the handle of the closest box, lifting it upward several inches before lowering it back on the bench. “It’s heavy,” he declared, the Chief Engineer arriving and gazing at the boxes. “My guess is they’re both lead.”

“Your guess is correct, Captain. They are lead, with sufficient volume to safely contain a small amount of low yield ionizing material,” Chief O’Donovan posited.

Foxwell exchanged glances with O’Donovan and Warwick. “Any attempt to open the boxes?”

“No, Captain,” Warwick replied. “We’re awaiting the arrival of Beta and the Geophysicist.

***

“It’s definitely rilidium,” Zara Veillon declared, standing in front of the workbench, all personnel protected by a radiation safety suit. A laser torch was used to remove the padlocks. The contents of both lead boxes were removed and placed on the bench, identified and tested for radiation levels. “It’s safe to remove our ionization suits,” she announced, her voice muffled by the hooded portion of her suit. Foxwell, Beta, the Chief Engineer, and Chief of Security Warwick carefully removed their protective clothing. They gathered around the Galactic Fleet Geophysicist.

“What are we looking at, Doctor Veillon?” Foxwell asked.

“The first box contains a hypospray injector and several vials,” she began. The vials contain rilidium in what apparently is a liquid injectable medium. The other box revealed a small, round tin with a screw thread lid containing approximately half an ounce of processed rilidium ore, ground into a very fine powder. Both are emitting ionization particles, but at safe levels. However, if deeply inhaled, ingested ……. or injected, it’s deadly.”

Dr. Rivera examined the hypospray injector and vials, then the powder. “I agree with the findings of the geophysicist, captain. I can run additional tests on the vials in sickbay, but the fact they’re radioactive pretty much confirms what Dr. Veillon has stated.”

“Run the tests, doctor. I want those results when Leia is questioned.”

Rivera nodded, followed by a hailing signal from the closet comm panel. 
“Engineering, O’Donovan here,” the Chief Engineer responded.

“Bridge, Lt. Roberts,” the on-duty conning officer announced. “Please inform the Captain we are approaching the exoplanet. Stargazer will be in orbit around Luyten b in less than thirty minutes.”
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