The HanI’Rhy Mystery
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Table Of Contents

Mission 6: THE HANL’RHY MYSTERY

 

The contents of the Ship Logs are considered to be a "compilation" under the provisions of Title 17, U.S. Code (known as the Copyright Act): that is, "A work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that is selected, coordinated or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship." As such, it is the property of the ship’s Captain; however, automatic transfer of ownership to STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET is effected upon publication of this mission by the ship’s Captain ipso facto.

As outlined in Circular 1 (Copyrighted Basics, Library of Congress, Washington DC, USGPO 1989-262-309/12), "copyrighted in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from the copyright in the collective work as a whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution."

This mission may not be reproduced in any form without the express, written authorization of STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET.

Prologue

Captain’s Log:

We have just entered orbit around the planet the Romulans called "HanI’Rhy,", or "Place of Mystery," I had to ask our Chief Intelligence Officer, Spahn, for a translation. Our only intelligence on this world indicates that the Romulan Empire abandoned its claim to the world over 20 years ago, and pulled back the boundaries of their Empire so as to exclude the HanI’Rhy system. There are no known indigenous life forms.

Federation freighters and traders have recently been reporting unusual "weather" in the area, and the PHOENIX was sent to investigate. Since our primary mission is to explore unknown territory, we are taking this opportunity to investigate a world that has been reluctant to release its secrets.

We have been having trouble with the dilythium crystal matrix in the past few days, and transporters have not been working properly. Because of this I am sending down two shuttles of Science and Security personnel. Commander Stryker will head the exploration team.

Captain Steele turned in her chair and looked at her First Officer.

"Ready, Commander?"

He grinned. "Always, Captain." Suddenly, the grin was replaced with a more sober look. "I would, however, like to request a Marines escort for thee shuttles."

"Expecting trouble?"

"No, sir. Just prepared. This was once Romulan territory. I just like

to have my bases covered."

Steele nodded. "As you wish, Commander," the Captain agreed. "Notify Horn and tell him what you need. He’ll see that it happens."

"Thank you."

Stryker was looking forward to setting foot on HanI’Rhy.Although he loved the PHOENIX, sometimes it felt good to get off the ship and onto an unexplored planet. He thumbed his comm button. "All landing party personnel report to the Shuttle Bay in 20 minutes. Stryker out."He stood, unsuccessfully trying to hide his relish for this particular mission. Exploring the unknown was what it was all about.

"Be careful down there, Commander," Steele cautioned.

He flashed another grin at her. "Always, Captain."

As Stryker left the Bridge, Steele turned to the sensor station. "How’s

the weather out there, Ensign?"

"Clear and sunny, Captain," was the immediate reply.

Steele leaned back in her chair. So far, so good.

Well within the 20-minute timeframe that Commander Stryker had specified, the Pegasus and the Minotaur were well on their way, accompanied by three of Horn’s Marine fighters.

"ETA to surface?" Stryker inquired of the Minotaur’s pilot.

"ETA in 12 minutes, Sir," the pilot answered.

"Minotaur, this is Pegasus, over," the Pegasus pilot’s voice came over

the speakers.

"This is Minotaur. Go ahead."

"Minotaur, I¹m picking up some strange readings on my long-range sensors, nine-zero by one three zero. Do you see the same thing?"

The Minotaur pilot rapidly scanned his readouts. He raised an eyebrow.

"Affirmative, Pegasus. Looks like bad weather."

The pilot looked at Commander Stryker. "Should we return to the PHOENIX, Sir?" he asked.

"Time to intercept with the weather?" Stryker asked.

The pilot looked at his instruments again. "10 minutes, Sir."

"Time to surface?"

"Ten minutes, Sir."

Stryker sat back. "So, the race is on." He became more serious. "It’ll be close, but I think we can make it."

The pilot nodded. "Pegasus, this is Minotaur. Landing is still a go."

"Acknowledged," came the immediate reply.

Stryker took a breath. Things were beginning to get interesting.

"Minotaur, this is PHOENIX," Captain Steele¹s voice broke in.

"Stryker here."

"Commander, we’re reading an ion storm heading directly for you, ETA

five minutes. Abort mission and return to ship."

"Five minutes?" Stryker said. A quick visual showed the storm looming directly ahead. "I thought you said –"

"She¹s right, Sir," the pilot said. "I now reading five- no, sir, ETA

is sixty seconds!"

‘What the hell?" Stryker said. He looked out the windows in time to see the swirling fury of the ion storm engulf the small shuttle . . . .

"Captain," the sensor station officer said, "The storm has engulfed the shuttles, Sir."

"Can we tractor them out?" Talon snapped.

"No, Sir. We can’t get a lock on them."

"Storm intensity?" Steele asked.

"Force 10 and―and rising, Sir!" The last word of the officer’s sentence went up in a near squeak. Force 10 was supposed to be the highest intensity of ion storms.

"Rising?They’ll be torn to shreds!" She punched the comm button. "Stryker, can you read me?"

Her only answer was the snarling static of interference caused by the ion storm.

"Captain!" The Sensor Station officer’s voice on the verge of panic. "The storm is now heading directly for us!"

"ETA?" Steele said sharply.

"ETA, uh… now, Sir!"

The PHOENIX bucked like a angry stallion as the fury of the storm engulfed them. Inertial dampeners fluctuated at the sudden attack, and people were flung from their stations.

Talon found herself dumped unceremoniously in the middle of the Bridge, her right knee throbbing painfully from the impact. She brushed her hair out of her face. Something wet and warm dripped on her cheek. She looked down to see that she had cut the palm of her hand.

"Shields!" Steele ordered, then, "Damage report!" She pulled herself back into her chair.

"Captain," Qa’S’ deep voice sounded over the intercom. "We have major problems in Engineering. Six warp relays have blown, and the crystals are

disintegrating." He coughed. "I lost three people, Captain, and several more are hurt."

"Acknowledged," Steele said curtly. "Recommendations?"

"Shut down the warp core temporarily," Qa’S said. "If we don’t, there’s a distinct danger of a warp breach."

"Do it!" Steele ordered. "Bridge to Sickbay. You’ve got dead and wounded in

engineering."

"Already on it, Captain," Commander Gordon’s voice replied.

A good crew, Talon allowed herself to think.

"Shields down 22 percent,’ Steele heard over the babble of voices on the bridge. "Ion storm intensity increasing by a factor of five!"

"Helm, get us out of here!" Steele’s voice was louder than she wanted.

‘Trying, Captain," Lieutenant McConnell responded. "She’s sluggish, Sir."

The PHOENIX shook under the force of the storm, lights fluctuated wildly. Steele was seriously worried. The ship was strong, but she wasn’t built to wallow in an ion storm that exceeded Force 10. If they couldn’t get out of this soon, her ship would be in pieces.

Then, just as suddenly as it started, the storm stopped. The sudden hush was unnerving, though the subdued babble of busy voices on the Bridge never stopped.

"Can you locate the shuttles?" Steele barked.

The Sensor Station officer shook his head. "Negative, Sir. There’s no trace of either shuttle."

"What about planetside?"

He shook his head again. "Sorry, Sir. It’s as though they disappeared. I’m not even reading signs of wreckage anywhere."

"Damn!" Steele muttered under her breath. What had started out as routine had suddenly become a matter of life and death. "And the Marines?"

A shrug was all the answer she got.

"Captain," Qa’S’ tense voice sounded over the speakers. "We’ve got more problems down here."

"Sir?"

Stryker tried to open his eyes, but for some reason they didn¹t want to obey him.

"Sir?" the voice sounded urgent.

With almost superhuman effort, the Commander forced his eyelids up, wondering why his head hurt so badly. There seemed to be two people standing over him, but then the image coalesced into one. It was Dr. Jonathan Drake, looking pretty banged up.

"Sir, we’ve got to get out of here," he said urgently. "The pilot is dead, and we’ve got wounded. We’ve got to get them to dry land."

"Dry land?" Stryker whispered. He was so confused.

"You¹ve got a concussion, sir," the doctor explained. "The pilot managed to put us down in a lake, but we’re taking on water, Sir. We’re sinking."

"How far are we from the shore?" Stryker managed.

"Not far," Drake told him, "but we’ve got to get going."

"The Pegasus?"

Drake shook his head. "I don’t know, Sir. We lost contact with them and the Marine pilots. All systems are down. . . as we will be if we don¹t get off this shuttle! "

"Understood," Stryker said, pushing the throbbing ache in his head away from his immediate thoughts. "All right people, gather supplies and strap them on. I hope you’re all caught up in your swimming skills."

The able bodied helped the wounded. As quickly and as efficiently as they were able, the battered shuttle team made their way to the shoreline, just in time to see the Minotaur sink beneath the surface in a flurry of bubbles and escaping air.

Drake set about seeing to the injured, ignoring his own hurts, drafting the unhurt into playing triage nurses for him.

"Hell of a way to start a mission," Stryker muttered. He pulled out his sodden communicator. "Stryker to PHOENIX, come in."

Silence.

He changed frequencies and tried again. "Stryker to PHOENIX, come in!"

This time he was greeted by the snarl of angry static, but little else. He tried a third time, and a third time there was nothing. He snapped the useless piece of equipment shut and shoved it into his utility belt. Great! Just great! He turned around and watched the men and women who had been with him on the shuttle. They all looked expectantly at him.

"We’re on our own, people. I hope everyone brought their wits with them, because we’re going to need all the help we can get."