Ship's Log, Stardate 130517
USS Argonaut, tasked with protecting SS Astraios, Astraios Prime and the Astraios System from the effects of an alien device implanted in the Astraios sun, puts ship and crew in harm’s way by entering the solar corona in an attempt to destroy or remove it. Through an ingenious use of tractor beam technology, they are able to lock onto the device and tow it into normal space.
The alien mechanism continues to operate, affecting the Argonaut’s systems as well as causing disruption throughout the Sector. Unwilling to try to destroy the contraption so close to populated areas, and, in order to mitigate the effects it produces, the Argonaut launches an unmanned shuttle, which latches onto the device and is manoeuvred so that it proceeds the ship on a course towards the Sector border.
Several hours later, a large asteroid is detected, travelling slowly towards an anomaly exerting a large gravimetric force. Science has determined a possible method of powering the device down, but will need to be physically at the device to switch it off. Transporting to the shuttle is not an option: besides the issue of having to lower shields, the apparatus itself takes up all available space in the shuttle, including that of the transporter pad. The Officer sent would likely materialize inside the device. Not a happy prospect.
The suggestion is made that landing the device on the asteroid would be the best option, although the Argonaut must be careful not to enter the event horizon of what has been identified as a black hole. The Captain orders a marker launched, Helm is to monitor ship’s chronometer and ensure it agrees with that of the probe, slowly being left behind as the ship, shuttle and device are maneuvered into position.
The shuttle is directed to land on the asteroid, controlled by the Argonaut helm. The gravimetric forces are strong, the device itself is affecting systems, and in the end control of the shuttle is lost, and it crashes on the asteroid. Despite the dangers, a small Away Team, clothed in environmental suits, is beamed down to disable the alien mechanism. They manage to switch it off, and the Argonaut beams them back aboard. Weapons are armed and the device is targeted.
Two torpedoes are launched and the alien apparatus is destroyed, along with the asteroid as well. The resulting shock wave latches onto the Argonaut and the ship is tossed into the huge gravimetric eddies emitted by the anomaly. Several crew are injured, radiation levels increase, but the device has been destroyed and everyone in the Astraios Sector is safe from its effects.
Amid the jubilation, the ship’s chronometer is duly checked against that of the probe. It is not in alignment. The Captain orders a course set back the way they came, using the probe’s signal as a beacon. Warp drive is engaged, but the Argonaut does not respond: The ship has entered the event horizon of the black hole, and is securely in its grip.
Attempts are made to free the vessel from the gravimetric forces. The engines strain and hull integrity becomes an issue. The Captain recalls a mission aboard the Enterprise D, where that ship was in a similar situation and made the choice to go into the anomaly in an effort to save the vessel and crew.
The now distant probe is used as a communication relay, as Operations tries to send a signal to SS Astraios to advise the situation. No response is received.
The Captain orders Helm to set course for the centre of the anomaly. Despite shielding, radiation levels rise within the vessel. Power distribution is an issue as engines have been affected. Life support is maintained, however. Then the ship enters what appears to be a subspace corridor, one that begins to collapse around the Argonaut, threatening to crush the hull. The deflector dish is used to emit a tachyon pulse, which opens the conduit enough that the ship can slip through, entering normal space again at half impulse, limping a little, but alive and kicking.
Astrometrics reports no record of this area. The communications array was damaged in the wormhole, but even after repair, it appears there is nothing and no one within reach. No way back, the only choice is to go forward. A stunningly beautiful nebula glimmers at a distance. After some repair on the ship, a course is set toward it to allow Science to collect data. Since the area is uncharted, Astrometrics gets to work, and the Captain names the Tiberius Nebula. Probes are launched at regular intervals, to collect data, monitor the black hole, and mark a path in case the Argonaut needs to return to its entry point.
As the ship moves forward, a signal is detected. It appears to be coming either from or beyond the nebula. It is transmitted in a language the Universal Translator doesn’t recognize. Problems with systems continue, in addition some of the crew have come down with a form of influenza; issues with dreams or waking episodes, possibly stress or some kind of unknown effect on humanoids travelling through a black hole, are also reported. All is documented.
Travelling at low warp, the ship traverses the nebula using the alien signal as a homing beacon since sensors fail while in such an anomaly. When scans resume, a system is discovered, within it is a class P planet which seems to be the source of the transmission. No life signs are detected.
Science feels a few words from a native speaker would assist the translator to be able to decipher the signal. No one appears to be on the planet, but something or someone was sending a message on an open frequency. The Captain decides to investigate. The Argonaut is put into orbit, and a shuttle is dispatched with an Away Team aboard. The atmosphere below is cold, and storms are frequent, but the team lands safely and spreads out to recon the area. Time is short as sensors show a massive atmospheric disturbance approaching the encampment.
The Away Team searches the planet surface and returns safely to the ship, with data from the technology, shuttle and other items they found, along with information about a corpse. A cave had been located and Science wants to return to examine it as the materials around it are reflecting scans. Tactical finds a warp trail approximately 48 hours old, leading away from the planet. Science is working to translate the signal that led the Argonaut here - which they now believe might be a distress call. The storm below is moving away from the encampment. Engineering works to repair the EPS conduits while Science was given 2 hours to complete the Away Mission to examine the cave.
Chief Science Officer Bravin requests a briefing with the Captain after the Team returns to the Argonaut. In the cave they had discovered dead bodies, gems, further signs of violence, and mining equipment.
After the debrief, course is set to follow the warp trail. Increasing to warp 7, suddenly the ship encounters an energy field Science describes as similar to a Tholian web. The Argonaut is forced to back off. Determined to follow the alien vessel, the Captain asks Science and Tactical to figure out how the alien vessel had passed through the web, which appeared to be made of the same crystalline material as some items found at the mining encampment. Helm spots a small class M planet ahead, beyond the web. Various means to break through the web are discussed.
Having no idea how the vessel that proceeded the Argonaut crossed this boundary, the ship begins a series of lateral searches, moving the ship across the grid from west to east, east to west, scanning as they go.
The alien vessel is identified as a mining vessel that appears to belong to Species 116. It is suspected that the freighter has been commandeered by whoever attacked the miners on the class P planet . Whoever they are, they may well have come to the Class M planet to continue their violent assault on what is perhaps a home world for at least some of the survivors of that race, most of whom were assimilated by the Borg, an unfortunate turn of events predicated by the inadvertent actions of Captain Kathryn Janeway and USS Voyager.
Evidence of advanced technology had been found in the investigation at the mining encampment, and Species 116 are reportedly superior in their use of technology. The Captain orders stealth mode. Ships communications to be text only. No transmissions inside or outside the Argonaut. The cloaked probe is launched, entering the system ahead and sending back telemetry via a signal set to appear like space noise. The Argonaut is also cloaked, strain on the weakened power systems continues, decks are evacuated, officers double up in quarters, and use of replicators is restricted to the mess only. Routines are set so Junior Officers eat first after their watch... all this while the Argonaut plays a waiting game, using the time to become acquainted with all data on Species 116, and to continue repairs.
Finally they are able to find an area of the web with an opening large enough to allow the Argonaut through. Course is set, and the ship moves at one quarter impulse, toward the class M planet and the mining vessel now in orbit. The concern: who is on that vessel. As the Argonaut comes through the net, sensors confirm some kind of activity is taking place, moreover the ships' counsellor senses what she calls a 'bad feeling'. A shuttle is outfitted with a cloak, a team of marines prepare for an Away Mission. They are to approach the mining vessel, disable its weaponary, transport over and capture it. Ship's course is set so that aft shuttle bay will be facing away from the planet and mining vessel when the shields are dropped to launch the shuttle.
Soon sensors and senses appear to confirm the planet is being attacked. Yellow alert is called, but the order is given to keep weapons offline until the Captain says otherwise. Every bit of power is going to the cloak and shields as the Argonaut and its crew move into position.