A fiery nebula and stellar nursery

The Hollow

One month had passed since the Mercoledi murders. Sickbay was still under construction and both the ship and crew were not acting on all cylinders. In regards to this, Admirals Irving and Knickerbocker sent the Potemkin on an easy assignment. A group of dilithium miners had begun an operation in a stable asteroid belt orbiting a yellow star near Tholian space. It was time for their first shipment and the 'Tem was sent to collect it. While there Mr. Vant Assel, the leader of the group, invited a handful of the crew to beam down to the largest asteroid and celebrate their harvest.

Captain Mitchell, Commander Arkin, Counselor Jordan, Lieutenant Rollands, and Ensign Tran all joined the party. They were greeted by Assel, a stout lively man, who greeted them enthusiastically and told them to enjoy the whole party. There was some disagreement, but eventually he convinced the crew to join in the celebration with spiced punch and various delectables being served. At the same time, those on the 'Tem finished receiving the last shipments of dilithium and the crew as feeling a bit bored with this "sleepy" little hollow. Prax decided to take a look around the belt, just a bit anxious about their proximity to Tholian space.

The party atmosphere was broken up by the sound of a scuffle happening. After a few moments of watching the fight escalate, Warp eventually broke in and put a stop to it. The two contestants were a large burly man and a tall lanky beak-nosed individual. Assel also stepped in, chastising "Van Brom" (the burly man) and asking the lanky man, or "Professor Krayne" if he was alright. Van Brom demanded that Krayne stay away from "there" before storming off - but first hoping that the "Phantom Tholian" would take Krayne. Assel quickly explained that both Van Brom and Krayne were interested in his daughter, and that a rivalry had sprung up between the two. Krayne would never directly fight Van Brom, but the latter had a temper that was not to be tested. The Phantom Tholian, as it was explained, was a local ghost story that claimed a Tholian had tried to invent a phase shifting ship in the local area. The experiment failed and the pilot was ripped from his cockpit. The legend states that the ship is still seen - but without cockpit or pilot.

As amusing as the story was to those on the surface, it became a concern to the 'Tem. Ensign Blaine thought, for a second, he spied a ship on the view screen, but sensors showed nothing. No one else saw it, and repeated scans came up negative. Prax had Melina send out a general hail, also to no avail. Then the ship appeared again, weaving its way through the asteroid field. Sensors still didn't register it, and the ship couldn't even get a weapons lock. Then Melina announced that a second hail attempt had turned up one result - an extremely faint reply that sounded vaguely like the voice of John Michael. However, only she could hear it - the computer only registered white noise. Then, the ship up an vanished.

Meanwhile, down at the party, Professor Krayne joined Arkin and Warp and began excitedly talking to them about their experience with transporters victims living in subspace and expounding his theories that life might exist somewhere in the folds subspace. He explained that he had been working on ways to contact any life there and invited Roswell and Arkin to examine some of his research. Warp declined the invitation; Jordan during all this time began to feel cold shivers running down her spine and a general feeling of uneasiness.

On the 'Tem, Prax ordered Fuller and Blaine to make the sensors work and Melina to broaden the communications system to pick up what they could. Suddenly, the ship appeared again - much closer to the Potemkin - and it was easily recognizable as a Tholian web ship. They didn't have time to be astounded to long; the ship quickly turned and set a course away from them. The route seemed to take it toward the asteroid where the party was going on. Then, in a move that surprised everyone, the ship passed through a solid asteroid. Suddenly, sensors did flare up - the ship was definitely Tholian and charging phasers! The mystery ship raced by the dome where the party was being held and starting to fire on the asteroid. After several pots shots, the ship promptly vanished again!

In Krayne's lab, the three scientists found that Krayne's equipment had registered high fluctuations in subspace - corresponding to the appearance of the "ghost ship." As they worked, the Potemkin witnessed the Tholian ship coming back into view again, this time aiming its fire directly on the smaller section of Krayne's lab. The 'Tem opened fire, and there was a detonation, but the ship was no where to be seen. Those on the ship contemplated if the vessel was cloaking or phasing somehow, while Krayne (in his lab) declared that it was the ghost Tholian. He warmed up his equipment and decided that he should try and contact this mystery vessel.

The vessel appeared yet again, and all fire from the 'Tem passed straight through it. It only then became corporeal and fire two torpedoes on the lab again. Arkin was convinced that it was Krayne's transmitter calling the vessel in, and she turned it off. However, it had little noticeable effect. The 'Tem did strike while it was corporeal and only then did it fly away and phase out again. Jordan suddenly recognized the feelings she had been experiencing was an empathic trace - someone close by had incredible mental powers. She and Warp began heading toward the lab and discussing who it could be.

Krayne became frantic, declaring the phantom Tholian was after him, and took off to a shuttlebay. Before he could be stopped, he stole a shuttle and moved out into space. At the same time, Bom and Fuller found a pattern to guessing when the Tholian would be corporeal enough to damage with weapons. Warp had the 'Tem beam everyone up to the ship, and Nguyen sent them all to the Eight Forward Lounge. From there, they witnessed the mystery vessel appear once again and start firing on Krayne's shuttle. Bom and Fuller correctly predicted when to fire and sent a volley toward the Tholian vessel - just as it fired one more shot on Krayne's shuttle.

There was a bright explosion, but when it cleared, there was no trace of either vessel. Sensors only showed the radiation from Fuller's volley. However, Counselor Jordan had her own theory. She called security down to the lounge and pointed to Van Brom - who was conveniently holding Assel's daughter Katerina. Jordan noted that he was an empath, and Van Brom noted that he was part Mantokan and he did have empathic abilities. She accused him of having made the ship real with his mind in a ploy to get rid of his rival. He denied this accusation, and challenged her to produce some evidence - there was no ship, no body, and no way to prove anything. Warp had to admit Van Brom had a point and, at Assel's urging, agreed to have the colony beamed back to their homes.

And that is the legend of that sleepy hollow...

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