Canopus Station
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Pinged Off

Posted on Mon Feb 3rd, 2020 @ 2:49am by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci & Lieutenant Commander Meilin Jiang & Lieutenant Commander Amie Cerys
Edited on on Tue Feb 4th, 2020 @ 3:51pm

Mission: S2:1: Into The Drowning Deeps
Location: Canopus Station, Station Operations
Timeline: Md 2 1700

"Congratulations, you successfully raised the ambient temperature of the entire moon's atmosphere by a quarter degree. The staggering amount of energy that would take is somewhere in the terra joule range."

Ingram walked around the command dais, and gestured at the system map floating above it. Simplified by its small size, the system map showed Carpathia as a small yellow dot orbiting the red and white striped gas giant of Tangerine Dream. From the golden dot of a moon, a silver thread could be seen spreading out across the system.

One thread sank into the candy cane depths of Tangerine Dream.
Another dived into the star, presumably the Prior machine called a Whisper Gate.
The next touched a comet fragment riding in the Unicorn B asteroid belt.
And the final beam of energy had reached out to touch a plane of dusty regolith on the airless second world of the Carpathia system.

"Four locations. One of which we know is a Prior artefact orbiting within the corona of the Carpathia star. It's safe to assume that the other four locations might well be Prior artefacts," Ingram pointed out. "Of course if anyone has any other theories they would like to float before us, I am all ears."

Mara studied the image. She had no other theories of her own, but had a few thoughts about the artifacts themselves. "Do you suppose the one on Carpathia is calling the others for help?" she asked.

Tilting her head to the side as she listened and also looked at the image, Amie sighed softly to herself. Most of this information was still well over her head. She'd studied but...that didn't do any of this justice. What had happened on the away mission was never what she expected to be thrown into. But when Mara spoke up, she gave a small nod. "It might make sense. Distress call of some sort?"

"Or a data dump," Ingram said. He tapped a control on the holoprojector and a series of scientific analysis appeared in graphic format. False-colour imaging of the beam, spectral analysis. "The beams were a physical presence to be sure, they were able to emit photons and be seen. But according to every scientific instrument on this station, the beam was not there. There was no EM interference, no subspace distortion. Not even the Phase Space Transceiver that allows us to remain in contact with the Milky Way picked up anything, and it is by far the most sensitive scientific instrument we have to hand."

Ingram brought his hands together.

"Though at the same time as the 'broadcast' I got a report from the pier side controller for the Carcosian ship that they'd discontinued drawing power from the Station's Reactor. It would appear whatever dampening effect the Prior tower on Carpathia was causing has been negated."

"To predict what data the tower transmitted, we must ask ourselves what its purpose was," Meilin said. "It appeared to be an advanced terraforming system, which suggests any database it possessed would have been regarding the synthetically generated ecosystem on the desert moon." Continuing to assess the holographic display, she also added, "So far, the denizens of this globular cluster utilize technology that developed along very different paths than that of any we've encountered so far. A millennium ago, the EM field was considered magical and subspace was completely undetectable. I, therefore, hypothesize that we may be dealing with an entirely different medium of transmission than standard space or subspace. The Priors seemed to have mastered it, and the Carcosians in their unique technology may hold the key to unlocking it."

"I might be bit new to all this, and may not have fully caught up on everything. But," Amie looked between them, "was it never thought of that it might be a transmission or data dump type thing? Maybe it was in the past and I don't know it."

"Thank you for joining us, Lieutenant Commander," Meilin said with subdued sardonicism. "And for sharing your insight. The hypothesis I raised is that the technology of the Priors may utilize a medium as yet unknown to us. If true, then we will be unable to directly detect the transmissions between their artifacts..." Normally Meilin would leave it there and let Ingram and the others draw their conclusions from her prompts, but this instance was too important. She did not want to leave such things to chance. "...yet the Carcosians can. My recommendation is that we urgently request their wisdom if not their assistance."

Mara gave Meilin a grin. That had been Meilin speak for, "no shit, Sherlock."

"And portray to them another avenue of science in which we are lacking?" Ingram said with a barely hidden contemptuous scoff. "Decerning the meaning of the signal is of secondary importance. We now know of three as of yet unexplored Prior artefacts. That's three more than we knew of before."

A new holo window opened up, revealing a freeze-frame of a rotund amphibian alien. It was hard not to see the bulbous eyes, the wide mouth, the mottled oily skin and think 'frog', but the Mercenary Acamedic known as Gastarox fit the bill perfectly.

"During his limited debriefing before your arrival, Commander Cerys, Gastarox made himself out to be quite the scholar on Prior artefacts. An expert in his field, I think the term of phrase was," Ingram mused.

Meilin grimaced at the mention of the old toad. "It us my humble opinion, Captain Ingram, that Gastarox is, how one might say, a hostile witness. How can we trust anything he says? He will surely betray us at the first opportunity."

"Besides," added Mara, who had yet to meet this Bar'soon, "the Carcosians have been quite helpful. And they did help us deactivate one tower. I agree with Commander Jiang. We should ask them."

Raising an eyebrow slightly. "I can try to ask him, if you would like. Usually, no matter the species, I can at least tell if someone is lying. Whether or not they are giving full details, well, that would mean a full questioning session under proper circumstances. But if you want to know if he's telling the truth, that's oddly part of Intelligence I am rather good at." Amie glanced to the others again. "Only if you want me to."

"Yes, the Carcosian's have been most helpful have they not? We have had no problem with the Prior artefact, it was in fact the stated intent of that away mission to make local space safer for Carcosian shipping. They seem to have gotten a lot more out of the deal than ourselves, but then we are the hosts," Ingram said neatly. "Commander Meilin and Ricci, you may invite our Carcosian friends to help us in understanding both the nature of the signal and the newly uncovered artefacts. Meanwhile, I want everything they tell us fact-checked by Gastarox, I'm sure it won't be the first time Commander Cerys will have played the devil's advocate."

"Not the first and won't be the last. Comes with the territory." Amie said with a small shrug.

Meilin nodded in assent. "That has the appearance of wisdom," she said diplomatically. It very well could be foolish, but only time would tell.

"Not all of us are so besotted with the Carcosian's that a modicum of caution is not warranted," Ingram said huffily. "Commander Meilin, you've spent the most time directly interacting with them. And since their own shipboard power generation has spun up to full bore, the only thing we're providing them is a stable mooring point. Even comm's is handled through their ship's onboard array if the signals we're intercepting are even communications and not some sort of engine emission. What is your opinion of them as people."

He held up a hand.

"I know it's only been a day, but a first impression is important. I'm sure everyone here, especially our Intelligence Chief, would like to hear your first-hand opinions."

What could Meilin say? They were a beautiful tapestry of interwoven cultures? A most powerful and honorable emblem of not only survival but prosperity against all odds? A living embodiment of the art of kintsugi where fractures could be healed with lacquer of gold and silver and be more valuable than before the damage? No, she needed to be objective and professional in this moment... regardless of how she felt.

"I believe we have much to learn from one another," she said cautiously. "Though their ways are different, and their many values foreign, there remains a common root and ancestry that may potentially blossom into the strongest of alliances if properly nurtured. My preliminary opinion is that we alienate them to our mutual loss and peril."

"On that point, I agree with you," Ingram said. Another image appeared on the holo display. This time it was a holographic still from a hand scanner, showing the fractured White Tower and a scattering if still smouldering fragments from an Emulation. "Weapons that can arbitrarily alert matter at the atomic level via some form of vision-based quantum calculation. Theoretically from my own back of the hand musings, the power requirements alone are staggering even for the handheld models you saw on the surface. I'd hate to see what a ship-mounted weapon like that could do. Because if it's reliant on observation, then one might surmise that energy shields might not be effective counters."

He waved his hand and the hologram's vanished the lights in the Station Op's Centre rising as he walked around the central command console.

"Can anyone around the table tell me how the Tarlac and Ellora have evolved as a species since they met a highly technologically advanced civilisation called the Son'a? Any great Tarlac and Ellora scholars, musicians, poets and leaders?" Ingram asked, staging the question as a lecturer might before a tired group of under classmen.

"They were enslaved," Meilin said quietly, eyes downcast toward the tabletop.

Amie shook her head to the question, "I studied them but not in great detail."

"Huum, perhaps something a little closer to home?" Ingram said, ticking a finger at Amie. "How many neanderthals are there in Starfleet? No, wait, I attended the last Fleet Week Celebration in San Fransico last year before Canopus. Let us broaden our search to more useful sample size? How many in the entire Federation? The Alpha Quadrant? The Local Group? There are none. They became extinct following the appearance of homo sapiens, a more advanced iteration of the human form though at the beginning much smaller in population size. Better tools make for better odds of survival."

Crossing her arms, Amie shook her head again, "I wasn't ready for a history lesson. But you're exactly right on what you're saying."

"If I didn't know better, Captain Ingram, one might infer you are framing an argument of racial superiority," Meilin said, eyes respectfully lowered. "We are hardly Neanderthals. There is less than 300 years difference in separation of culture, which makes the Carcosian technological advancements all that much more impressive. Since there is hardly adequate time for evolutionary changes to transpire, perhaps it is premature to make species comparisons... or to form policies therein." She raised her eyes to meet Ingram's. "Irrational fear cannot be our guide in this hour."

Ingram pursed his lips, as though to speak further on the topic, but then seemed to think better of it and then allowed his lips to form a thin taunt smile.

"Perhaps you are right. Perhaps my misgivings are the unfounded and untested academic in me brushing up against the shadowed bulk of my lack of martial experience," Ingram said pleasantly. He nodded at Lieutenant Commander Cerys. "Perhaps I should study more history, least I repeat my mistake of today of assuming the worst when history is littered with so many glowing examples of more technologically advanced races co-existing with their lesser neighbours. But my orders stand, Gastarox is to be our check to the balance of this so far one-sided trade with the Carcosians. Due diligence and all that."

"It will be done," Meilin said with a demure nod. "And perhaps we may also confer with the refugees of the Romulan diaspora regarding the eventual outcome of isolationist policies."

"Yes, thank you for reminding me," Ingram said with a cough to clear his throat. "Some new business, as it were. We will be welcoming Expedition 4 to Messier 4 within the next few days. Preparations are well underway at Starbase 72 and the Alpha Phase Accelerator to send through the next wave. This Expedition will be made up of another Starfleet Corp Of Engineer's detachment, along with elements of then 8th Frigate Division that are being posted out of Canopus Station through the next three Expedition Cycles. This time three Sabre class vessels, to augment our guard fleet, along with the 1st Raptor Squadron that will be replacing the 82nd Advanced Deployment Squadron that was transferred to the USS Traveller."

He made another gestural command to the holo table, and data sets began to populate the air. One of which was the standard of the Romulan Free State, the post-Hobus successor to the Romulan Empire.

"Following Federation Council resolution 2-34a, ex-patriated Romulans who have made planetfall within the Federation after the Hobus stellar event have been given special dispensation to repopulation on uninhabited worlds within Federation space that are not contested by member states. To that end, a Clan of former Romulan Imperial citizens have petitioned and been granted colonisation rights alongside the Landersfell Colony on Carpathia. They will be joining us as Federation Citizens and are to be granted the same protections and rights as such," Ingram said. "Questions?"

It was disrespectful but Meilin could not help herself. "Only whether we will be seeking Gastarox's opinion on that as well."

"Oh, I don't think. But it might be an idea to inform our Carcosian guest we will be getting new arrivals soon. Given you are on something of a first name basis, I thought you might deliver the message to Forward Commander Larkin?" Ingram responded.

Meilin visibly stiffened at the mention of Larkin's name, but she kept her face neutral. "If that is the captain's order," she said coolly.

"They are," Ingram smiled venomously. "Any useful questions? Logistical ones?"

"No, sir." Meilin shook her head and swallowed a gleeful smile.

Amie had listened to the conversation, and had just let them all speak. She knew what was ahead of her now, and had to be ready for it. "No questions, sir."


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