A fiery nebula and stellar nursery

The Starship Montebello

In attendance: Admiral Warp, Commander Bom, Commander Arnet, Commander Tora, Commander Fuller, First Lt. Melina, Nurse Ceja, LtJG Rayus, LtJG Aklar

The Potemkin has delivered Doctor Alaran to Starbase 12, where he has begun mass production of the vaccine for the flu virus that bears his name. Now Starfleet has a new assignment for the USS Potemkin: begin the search for the Akira-class Federation Starship USS Montebello, last heard from approximately one week ago near the Qing-jao Nebula. The nebula, whose name means "gloriously bright," is a notorious source of spacial disturbances and radiation bursts. The Potemkin has been ordered to get as close as possible in their search, but not to endanger the ship or its crew.

As the sim opens, the Potemkin is about one billion kilometers (or 6.5 AU) away from the nebula, holding station. Even with the viewscreen at 80% opacity, it is still difficult to look directly at the image from outside. Sensors are on the fritz so close to the nebula--and for some reason, the Potemkin's starboard sensor array is acting up again--but Admiral Mitchell and Commander Tora have an idea to use the ship's optical sensors to try and pick out the Montebello's silhouette. While science and engineering begin to search, Arnet discusses all the time he's been spending away from sickbay (and on the bridge) with a sympathetic Nurse Ceja.

The smooth, efficient operation of the bridge crew is disturbed when an energetic young ensign, Mr. Falco, takes his place at the conn. When Aklar picks up what he thinks might be the Montebello, Falco rushes in--taking the Potemkin with him. Proximity alarms go off, and Falco only just manages to stop the Potemkin less than one kilometer from what is clearly another Akira-class ship, at least from its silhouette. "On the positive side," quips Aklar, "we're not taxing the magnification sensors."

Scans reveal it is, in fact, the Montebello, and Admiral Mitchell hails its captain, Abena Nkrumah. The only response is silence, punctuated by the occasional crackle of interference from the nebula's radiation. The ship shows no signs of outward damage, but it is highly irradiated. The ever-eager Mr. Falco recommends sending an away team over, a suggestion the admiral says he will consider when the ship becomes a democracy. Instead, he has Mr. Fuller lock onto the ship with a tractor beam, and the Montebello is dragged to a safe distance from the nebula.

THEN Admiral Mitchell tasks Commander Bom with assembling an away team. Bom, Arnet, Tora, Fuller, Melina, Ceja, Aklar, and Rayus don radiation suits, and are about to beam over when Ensign Falco comes stumbling down the ramp to join them--a going away present from Admiral Mitchell. LtJG Aklar has the wicked idea to pair the overzealous Falco up with the irascible doctor, and Bom makes it official as the team is caught in the transporter's annular confinement beam and shimmers away.

The bridge of the Montebello is dark, quiet, and empty. When the away team tries the consoles, they get nothing--the ship's computer has been shut down. Commander Bom quickly sends Tora, Melina, and Aklar to the computer core to effect a restart, then leads the rest of the away team down the ramp--no, oddly, in this ship it's stairs--to deck two, where the first group of lifeboats are located. With the ship's computer down, the consoles outside the lifeboats don't work, but by removing panels outside each door, the away team can see which lifeboats are away, and which are not. Most are gone, and those that are left are empty--despite Mr. Falco's worry that they might be hiding pirates or zombies.

The computer core teams begins the tedious process of performing a hard reboot, and Aklar floats to the ceiling, forgetting to activate his magboots before the room becomes weightless. Arnet and Ceja head for sickbay to see if any clues can be found there, while Bom and Rayus continue a visual inspection of deck two. The Potemkin, meanwhile, apprised of the situation, keeps the Montebello in tow and begins searching for the missing lifeboats. The Montebello, meanwhile, holds no clues. "It feels like we're in a zombie holonovel. Any minute now, the undead are going to burst out of a Jefferies tube and and go after us!" Falco tells Arnet, who reminds Ceja once again that he will have his revenge on Bom for this.

After a close call with a sonic mop in a storage closet, Bom and Rayus give up the search on deck two and return to the bridge in anticipation of computer restoration. Arnet and Ceja (with Falco in tow) also find no clues to help them, and begin the long walk back up the stairs to the bridge. Part way there the power is restored by Tora's team, and Arnet's group whisks its way to the bridge. There, Admiral Warp is just letting Commander Bom know the lifeboats have been found. The crew of the Montebello, it turns out, had to abandon ship when holonovel characters began flooding the ship after a hologenerator malfunction caused by the nebula's radiation.

With no small bit of horror, Bom realizes his group has just reactivated the computer--and, if the Montebello crew are to be believed, an army of holonovel characters. As if on cue, the bridge turolift doors open and out staggers a white-skinned humanoid, arms extended, red laser-sight flashing. It's a zombie-borg!

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