"Ship's Log, Stardate 87103.197, at 1600 hours, Commander Dia Kurosawa assumes command for Beta shift"

"Chief Engineer's Log, Stardate 87103.767 (21:00). We've just passed the halfway mark of Beta Shift, and all remains quiet. Most of the crew is currently either asleep or relaxing during their off shift. No hostile activity detected, and all shipboard systems are functioning at peak efficiency. I expect the rest of this assignment to proceed in the same manner. End Log"

Dia placed the PADD containing her most recent log entry onto the arm of the command chair with a quiet sigh of contentment. This time of day, the eight hours between 1600 and midnight, was her favorite. As proud as she was of her Betazoid heritage, the telepathy is not as…useful, as it is made out to be in Earth fiction. N-not that she's ever consumed such frivolous entertainment of course, she heard it from a friend!

Ahem. Normally, keeping the stray thoughts of others out of her consciousness was simple; but keeping the combined thoughts and flights of fancy of a group as erratic and foolish as her fellow senior officers was orders of magnitude more difficult than anything she'd ever experienced before. It almost made her miss living in the crowded chaos of the Earth Spacedock dormitories. Almost.

She sighed again, quietly this time, and picked up the PADD again, flipping over to the various departmental reports filed during the previous shift. Now, back to work. These reports won't complete themselves after all.

But of course, the demon Murphy chose that moment to pay the Aqours a visit, and the Gamma shift bridge crew was graced with a quiet "Beebeebeebeebeebee."

One eyebrow twitches upwards in irritation, and Dia glances towards one of the unoccupied secondary Tactical stations positioned along the starboard side of the bridge, from which a high-pitched constant tone alerts users to a situation that the ship's computer cannot resolve on it's own. Dia glances towards the port side of the bridge, where a young Andorian Ensign is staring at the offending console in shock.

"I do believe that sounds important Miss Osmire." The dry tone of Dia's mild reproach snaps the inexperienced junior officer out of her shock, and she replies with a hurried (and embarrassed) "Yes Ma'am!" Before hurriedly crossing the bridge to check the alert.

When a minute passes with no further update from the young Shen[1], Dia gives her a gentle telepathic nudge. Followed up by a verbal reminder: "Ensign, I'm waiting."

"Sorry Ma'am! It's just, I'm not entirely sure what to make of this Commander." Her antennae twitching furiously, the young Ensign continues to punch away at the console.

It was then that one of the other crewmen, Chief Specialist Mariah, took pity on the rookie. She transferred the functions of her station from along the back wall to the console adjacent Lieutenant Osmire, then joined the young Andorian at the starboard tactical station. "Here, let me take a look commander, it's rare that us Science branch people have anything to do on this ship."

"Consider it a training exercise Ensign. Pay close attention to Specialist Maria" Amusedly, Dia allows it. Osmire's stammered reply is interrupted when Specialist Mariah, no longer sporting the teasing grin of moments ago, reports back.

"Commander, faint sensor contact bearing two-eight-six Mark one-five, range 500km"

Dia's expression stiffens into a blank mask. 286? That puts it almost directly on our port side. "On-screen." She orders, rising from the center seat and absently tugging downward on her uniform shirt. Specialist Mariah taps out a command, then 'swipes' the sensor data in the direction of the large holographic viewscreen along the front wall.

The screen lights up, initially displaying the space directly ahead of the vessel, before blinking over to what looks like nothing more than empty space. The grim-faced science officer continues to make adjustments at her station, and a series of false-color sensor filters give additional color to the faint orange-tinged white of the Dyson Sphere's atmosphere. As the officer continues to work at refining the contact, the other occupants of the bridge slowly come to see a small dark shape against the emptiness.

Humor and levity had long left the minds of the on-duty crew, all present now focused on the readouts from their stations or the main viewscreen. So much for a quiet shift. Dia grumbles inwardly. Outwardly, she gives two commands, no sign of her internal discussion present. "Lieutenant Osmire, return to your station; Specialist Mariah, I need more information before I can sound Red Alert, can you provide a more concrete identification of the contact?"

"not with the information we're getting from passive scans." Mariah says. "To be blunt, we're lucky we even noticed it on a passive sweep. The object is faintly radiating, just barely distinguishable from the background radiation of the Sphere." As she was speaking, one of the automatic doors at the back of the bridge opened with a quiet swoosh, revealing the narrow confines of a turbolift car, including one passenger.

Dia glances over her shoulder and resists the urge to smile "Lieutenant Commander Sakurauchi, perfect timing, your expertise would be appreciated at the primary sensor stations."

The slender redheaded science officer is brought up short, amber eyes widening in startlement at the sudden request. "E-eh? Um, o-of course, yes ma'am." She moves over to the position she typically occupies on Alpha shift, the Primary Sciences Console directly to the right of the Captain's chair. Her outward compliance belying her inward dismay.

Meanwhile, Specialist Mariah was noticeably less on edge now that her department supervisor was on the bridge, moved over to an adjacent console and forwarded all available information to the primary Sciences station. A quiet triple-beep from the station indicated that the data had been received, and Riko set to work analyzing the data.

As the newest arrival on the bridge began her work, Ensign Osmire nervously made a suggestion "P-permission to run a high-power active scan with the main deflector dish?"

Dia mulls it over for a few seconds. Running an active sweep would alert a potential attacker that we're aware of them, possibly provoking an attack. On the other hand, It could also scare them off, knowing they've been spotted before they could finish positioning themselves for an attack. Knowing she'd probably regret her choice no matter which she made, Dia gave the order. "Granted, excellent suggestion Ensign."

"thank you Commander, charging the deflector dish for one high-intensity scan. Ready on your order." Osmire replied.

Before ordering the scan to commence, a thought occurred to the Commander. "Ensign, what do you have the focus of the sweep set at?"

The response is instantaneous, "sensor pulse is currently set to a 90° focus Commander."

"decrease the angle of the sweep to 6° and begin when ready. I would prefer to avoid alerting everything around the contact to our awareness at the moment."

"Sweep area set to 6° Aye Ma'am, going active in five seconds."

Dia takes her seat at the center chair as the scan commences. A pencil-thin beam of dimly glowing energy made visible by the false-color filters of the main viewscreen lancing outwards from the Aqours' main deflector dish towards the distant contact; Dissipating into the alien atmosphere of the Dyson sphere an instant later as the scan concluded.

"Sensor returns analyzed Commander, object is of a cylindrical shape, approximately 3 meters in length, and 1 meter in diameter." The report came from Specialist Mariah this time, compiling and reading the data returned by the sweep. She continued reading; "composed of a specific duranium alloy most often seen in the construction of Voth warships."

Geez, all I wanted to do was find Yocchan, I'm off duty right now! It's probably just battle debris anyways. Standing at her station next to the Captain's chair, Riko simultaneously reviewed the passive sensor data they'd recorded on the object, and internally bemoaned her current situation. As she continued to examine the data, Riko found herself paying closer attention to the section of the report pertaining to radiation emissions from the object.

This can't be accurate, this sort of energy pattern would indicate that we're looking at a live warhead! Moving at a more urgent pace now, Riko shifted her attention to the screen beside her, accessing Starfleet's fleetwide sensor data archives; pulling up a report submitted by the U.S.S. Mitaiken Horizon, an Odyssey-Class ship that was currently assigned to the front lines of the Delta Quadrant fending off the Vaadwar, but that had previously spent considerable time assigned to the Solanae Dyson Sphere. According to reports filed by the Horizon's chief science officer, a Voth defector named Nelan Exil, Voth warships were armed with an unusual armament of antiproton beam arrays, point-defense antiproton turrets, and transphasic torpedo launchers.

Riko accessed the raw sensor data attached to the report, navigating to the section labeled 'radiative output,' then instructed the computer to compare it to the passive sensor data recorded a few minutes ago.

"—struction of Voth warships."

It was a near-perfect match.

The rest of the Specialist's report was interrupted by a flash of light from the viewscreen. Followed immediately by an exclamation from a junior officer at the primary Tactical station. "Commander! the computer has just classified the object as a live transphasic torpedo, It's powered up!"

To say that the device was merely 'powered up' was a serious understatement. Where before it had merely been a dark speck in the distance, now the object was a brightly glowing pale gold oblong, bright enough that if one were to stand on the hull, it would have been visible with the naked eye.

However, before Dia could even react to this latest information, she heard yet another report. This time from the Science station to her right, from Riko. "Commander, two passive sensor contacts, bearing two-one-zero, mark one-seventy; and one-five-zero mark one-eighty[2], range is under 300 kilometers. I'm classifying them as additional transphasic warheads."

That was all the information Dia needed. "Shields Up, Red Alert! All hands General Quarters!" as she gave the order, Dia was simultaneously tapping the appropriate touch inputs on the captain's chair to bring the ship to full combat alert status. "Helm, evasive pattern Tau-Bravo-thirty one, Tactical, get a firing solution on those warheads." She then tapped the combadge pinned to her uniform, "All Senior Officers to the bridge, we're under attack."

End Chapter One

[1] Andorians have 4 genders, zhen, shen, chan, and thaan. Zhen and Shen are analogous to females, whilst Chan and Thaan are similar to males.

[2] wiki/Bearing