The Happy Wanderer
A standard navigational beacon is just over 3 meters in length with a lozenge-shaped metallic casing housing the computerised guts of the thing. At the base of the casing is a solitary thruster capable of only the most basic of maneuvers. On each side of the body are 'arms' that each hold a bank of navigation lights. By changing their colours, these lights can indicate the direction of travel for space traffic, highlight restrictions for shipping - no vessels over a certain speed in a particular area, that sort of thing - , or a half dozen other things that starship crews are familiar with on their travels. According to the latest cargo advisory, there was nothing special about navigational beacon NR-1-4470G.
"This is weird." Warren said, pressing keys on the science panel for more information. Good thing Mike and Kahled would be up here shortly.
The bridge doors hissed open, admitting the first officer. He headed toward the science station, studying the monitors over the shoulder of the officer currently seated there. He turned around and steadied himself against the railing, leaning toward Paige in the center seat.
"I heard Mike is back with us. Haven't had a chance to see him yet. He's either a glutton for punishment or he genuinely likes us." He cocked his head toward the main viewer. "So, do you want me to have the deck crew prepare to bring it aboard, sir? The telemetry from that thing is really weak."
The bridge doors parted for the science officer. He stood in the passageway, and said with a grin, "Permission to enter, sir?"
Warren turned in the direction of the voice and recognising the related face, he smiled.
"Of course. Didn't want to miss the Latin dance competition, I see?" Warren joked, "But before we can party, we have a little mystery of this navigation buoy to solve. Take a look at these readings about the probe and tell me what you think. I'm inclined to concur with the first officer and bring it aboard and fix it. It's a hazard to shipping in its current state."
Al Rashid clapped Mike on the shoulder as the science officer took a seat.
"Welcome back, Mister Falkenberg."
"Thank you, Number One." Mike grinned, squeezed his eyes shut and opened them again. The data were streaming in three screens. "By the looks of it, it isn't only a hazard to shipping. It's a hazard to itself. A lot of internal anomalies for a navigation buoy." He looked up at the two men nearby. "It needs being taken apart for sure. Do we have any buoy motherboards lying around in stores?"
"I don't think so, but we could probably cannibalize a board from a shuttlecraft and download our navigational data for this sector into the buoy's memory." Al Rashid stroked his chin. "Of course, we've gotta crack that thing open and see what's going on." He frowned at the data streaming on the science console monitor.
"Tractor it aboard into Shuttlebay Two. You two can work on it there."
"Yes, sir." Al Rashid descended toward the helm and activated the tractor beam. He thumbed the communications control on and his voice reverberated throughout the ship's intercom system. "This is the exec. Shuttlebay Two prepare for recovery operation. Bring the navigation buoy to the deck and stand by." He shut off the communication circuit and and looked toward Falkenberg. "Ready, Mike?"
The science officer stared intently at the screen. Something niggled at the back of his mind, and he could not make sense of what it was. He looked up at al Rashid. “Ready? Ah, sure. Ready, Number One.” He swiveled from his seat, still looking at the screen as he did. What is it? Mike shook himself as he stood, tugged at his tunic. “I’m with you. Lead the way.”
His orders issued to his senior staff, Warren turned his attention to the young communications officer.
"Fuentes, inform Starfleet that we are on station at the navigation buoy and have begun repairs."