"Captain, Sojourner's geo- and radiochemistry teams believe they've found a new element in the rings surrounding Fitzan IV! It has properties that are similar to tritium, but there are subtle, yet significant differences. There is a .08 difference in the rate of radiogenic decay! Isn't that exciting?"
Rowan looked down from the command center toward her Science Officer.
"Um, sure. Right. New element," she repeated as she approached the Research Director's console to look over the Bajoran's shoulder. "Show me."
"The research teams will need more of the element to complete our initial testing. We should gather core samples from the larger ring fragments in this system."
"Very well, coordinate with Lieutenant Pulaski to plot a course and gather the samples."
Ensign Danar, the duty officer at Tactical, spoke up, "Captain, there have been reports of Romulan patrols in the area."
"We should be careful then -- I wouldn't want anything to happen that would damage the samples."
Sojourner established orbit around the planet, just above the ring plane.
Captain, we have scanned the first ring fragment," announced Larrea. "Preparing to beam aboard samples now."
"Very well. Proceed."
"Captain," Ensign Danar spoke up again. "I am detecting signs of a Romulan vessel approximately 30,000 kilometers away in our planned orbit."
"Computer, yellow alert. Pulaski, plot a course to avoid the Romulans."
"Core samples have been retrieved from this asteroid, Captain," Larrea reported.
"Good. Continue to the next one, Mr. Pulaski."
As the helm officer moved to redirect Sojourner's path, the turbolift doors opened, and Tarah emerged, striding across the bridge to relieve Ensign Danar. He quickly reported the tactical status to the Andorian XO. Apprised of the situation, she examined her sensor readings.
"Captain, despite our altered course, the Romulan vessel seems to be approaching. I recommend we quit the system post haste."
Larrea turned at that last. "We haven't finished the survey yet."
"The safety of the ship is paramount," retorted the Andorian.
"The Romulans have not been outwardly aggressive here. They may only be assessing our purpose."
Tarah rolled her eyes as the telltale chime of an incoming hail cut short the discussion.
"Captain, the Romulan vessel is hailing us," said Ensign Danar.
"Put it onscreen."
The face that appeared was not Romulan but Reman.
"This Commander Rowan Starblanket, of the U.S.S Sojourner. We are conducting a Scienti--" The Reman commander cut off the transmission.
"Ensign Danar, hail them with our survey plans, including our intended course."
"They are decloaking and powering weapons, Captain," Tarah called out. "Shields up! Red Alert!"
The klaxon blared throughout the ship, as the bridge became bathed in red light from the warning signals.
Rowan moved to Tarah's side, calling out orders and receiving acknowledgments. "Evasive maneuvers, Ski! Auzzie, jam their sensors. Larrea, run a sensor scan and find any weak areas in their shields. And see if you can create a gravity well near their position. Tarah--"
"Already on it, Captain," her XO threw a grin her way. The Andorian was in her element. The ship shuddered slightly as the Reman escort got off an initial disruptor barrage striking the shields of the science vessel.
"Return fire. Auzzie, where are his blinders?"
"Working, Ma'am." The young Trill manipulated the console to produce a sensor overload on the enemy ship.
OOC: I found this looking through my drafts. I remember it, but thought I'd finished and posted it. If I did, it's been cut short for some reason. I may get to it again soon.