Chapter 2 added on 11 July 2000
Disclaimers are in part 1.
The away team transported twenty-five meters below the surface into one of the larger chambers Voyager’s sensors were able to penetrate. Several doorways leading to tunnels fanned away from the chamber. It was clearly an area of convergence. The walls were smooth, with a granite textured, and looked artificially carved out. Several computer panels were seen at the opening of some tunnels, all not functioning.
-chirp- "Away team to Captain Janeway," Torres hailed.
"Captain, we’ve transported into some sort of antechamber that connects several passageways. Looks like there are several accessible computer panels at some of the passage openings. We’ll have to examine them. I’ll keep you posted."
"Understood. Janeway out."
"No life signs," reported Ensign Suzuki while the young man tapped on his tricorder.
"Whoever was here, abandoned this area about 60 years ago, according to the scanners," Lt. Mitchell added in his rich New Orlean timbre.
"I could start a general sensor sweep and scout ahead. There seems to be deuterium radiation towards that direction ," Suzuki enthusiatically suggested.
"Alright, but Johan you go with him. None of us should be alone at any time during this away mission. We still don’t know what’s down here on this planet, and what the colonists left behind," Torres commanded.
"Yes, ma’am." Both Ensigns headed off towards the largest tunnel. Torres and Mitchell began to explore the chamber. There were several crumpled stone benches along the sides of the polygonal room. A few tiles patterns were noted on the floor. Clearly, a cultural, artistic species who took time to beautify even a more technical part of the station.
Seven had been examining one of the panels closest to her location at the time. She wiped the panel clean from the metallic and sandy dust that had accumulated. Most of the panel was still readable, with the keypads still well defined.
"Species 5161, Direelian," Seven noted.
"You recognize the technology?" asked Torres, as she stepped up behind Seven. "Yes, this species ...."
Torres cut her off at that point, "Hold on, Seven. I liked the rest of the away team as well as the bridge to hear this." Tapping on her comm -chirp-, "Torres to Suzaki, report back here on the double. Torres to Captain Janeway." Suzaki and Johan scrambled through the doorway back into the chamber.
"Janeway here. What is it Be’lanna?"
"Seven’s just examined one of the computer panels. She recognizes the possible origin of the technology. I thought you might like to hear this."
"Captain," Seven began without waiting for indication, "I recognize this technology as belonging to species 5161, Direelian. Phenotypically, they resemble the Hirogen, except, their body size are more similar to the Ferengi . Their home planet is approximately 3,200 light years away from this planet. They are a warp-capable species, however they lack the sophistication which would allow them to wander into deep space exploration. This is probably one of the farthest colonies they have established, and they expand from one colony to the next. Difficulty in replenishing supplies and establishing trade with the nearest colonies as well as possible hostilities from other species closer may have lead to their dissertion. However, the deuterium would be valuable enough for them to desire to return."
Torres sighed mentally. Though Seven understood the chain of command, she still didn’t recognize the subtleties. ‘Waiting for acknowledgement from me would have at least let me finish what I needed to say,... if I did have anything to say. Besides, it sets a bad example for the rest of the team, especially with another lieutenant present. And everyone wonders why we don’t get along,’ Torres thought to herself.
"I see. It looks like we have an opportunity to strike a little gold, at the very least."
"Captain?" Seven asked, with a perplexed look passing.
"Nevermind, remind me to remind you to look up the California Gold Rush. A remarkable period of time. Be’lanna, set up the transporter boosters so we can keep a better transporter lock on you at all times. And keep me posted."
"Yes, Captain, Torres out... Alright, Johan, begin setting up the transporter boosters and I’ll assist you. Suzaki and Mitchell, continue scouting ahead. Seven you go with them and make sure none of you activate anything without notifying me first." Torres was in her take charge mode. It was time to get the mission underway. She watched her team walk off, Seven trailing last. Her lithe figure seemed even more so with the deeping shadows. No argument from the borg so far to her relief. It was tough enough to get back to commanding her own away missions.
To be continued....