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It's Not Classified... Yet

Posted on Mon Jun 29th, 2020 @ 4:41am by Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci & Stephen Spires

Mission: S0E0: What Came Before
Location: Ricci's Office
Timeline: Before “A Devil for Details”

This isn't right! What am I missing? There was a rod thing here and right next to it was.... something....

Mara was trying to draw a 3D representation of the communications array- or the "Luminal Cartographer" as Haztor had called it- from the myriad ship. She had already written down, word for word, what he had said about it and she had probably sacrificed some memory of what it looked like to do it. Oh, well. The explanation was probably ore important anyway.

Walking in uninvited as per usual, Stephen Spires seated himself on an unoccupied corner of Mara's desk. "Whatcha' working on?" He leaned over for a better look.

Mara very nearly closed the file, but then remembered that nobody had told her to keep this under wraps yet. So she shrugged instead. "It's called a luminal cartographer," she answered. "It's how the myriad communicate with each other."

"A... spatial light mapper?" It had been awhile since Stephen's language studies. "How does it work?"

"I haven't figured that out, yet," replied Mara. "We weren't given much to work with and I can't remember it all. For instance, see this empty space right here? I can't remember what goes there. It seems to me that it was spinning... or something."

Despite having a good head for most things, Stephen couldn't make heads or tails of what Mara had written. "Well, what's it supposed to do? Maybe you can work backwards from that."

"Another good question," admitted Mara. "Maybe the power source? There's nothing else here that could be a power source."

"Okay..." Stephen rubbed his chin. "Is it self-powering or does it connect to their grid?"

"Yet another good question," replied Mara, wrinkling her brow. "For some reason, I think it's self-powered. That's why I'm thinking this was a power source." It was, of course, pure conjecture based on a gut feeling, but it was the best she had. Mara's gut feelings usually turned out to be correct, so she tended to go with them.

"Why not both?" Stephen speculated. "Like... a power port that kickstarts the device from the main grid and a capacitor or something that keeps it cycling after activation."

"That's possible, I suppose," she muttered. "Anyway, I'm sure you didn't come by just to make suppositions about an alien communications device."

Stephen shrugged. "Just lookin' for a hot lead from my hottest source. And, barring that," he added with a wink, "maybe some afternoon delight."

She gave him a look that told him he wouldn’t be getting that. “Spires,” she said. “I’m trying to work. But this is my biggest scoop right now. So if you want to take notes, do so before Ingram classifies it.”

"Who do you think I am? Wikileaks?" Stephen snorted at his witty historical reference. "Alien tech isn't newsworthy. Controversial applications is newsworthy! Can they use it to invade Federation space? Have you sussed out a defense against the Myriad's network intrusions? I mean we can't stay on lockdown forever."

"If I can figure out how this works, we might be able to figure out how more of their tech works and possibly mount a defense," she replied. "But, don't hold your breath. It could take awhile."

Stephen sat back on her desk corner again and folded his arms. "So..." he began casually. "Care to venture any theories? What does Ingram think?"

“Ingram hasn’t seen this yet,” she replied. “Or had the chance to forbid me from showing it to you. Which is the only reason I’m not looking over my shoulder to see if station security is on their way.”

That brought a grin to Stephen's face. "You don't say?" He palmed a microcam and stook a few quick shots of Mara's drawing. "Maybe this is a bit more newsworthy than I originally thought."

Mara laughed, shaking her head. "You're hoping he forbids me from telling you, aren't you?" she asked.

"That ship has sailed," Stephen said. "I hope he's good and pissed that I knew before he did."

“Only if you can manage to get the story published in the next 43 minutes,” she replied. “I’ve got a meeting with him. If I can figure out what goes here anyway,” she added, indicating the precariously empty spot on her diagram.

Stephen groaned. "Ugh. I need something more than just sketchy schematics. If it bleeds, it leads. Got anything gooey?"

She grinned; he was so cute when he was digging up a story. "I have a little cut on the back of my hand that I didn't bother going to Sick Bay for, but that's as close as it gets," she replied, holding up her right hand to show him. "Anyway, I need to consult Ryan on this. Maybe he remembers what was here. Do you have enough for a story?"

"No, not really." Stephen frowned. "The Myriad is extremely advanced. So far, this is a nothingburger. Got any wild speculative theories that I can quote? That would help."

“Sorry,” she replied. “They’re ubiquitous, if that helps. Three times in one day. I have a new word in my vocabulary,” she added proudly.

"Ubiquitous..." Stephen said. "So, you're saying one Myriad can be in many places at once? That might be something..."

“Yes,” answered Mara. “The one that was on the station chatting to Ingram was the same one on the Myriad ship, chatting to Mr. Terry and me. And who knows where else he was and what else he was doing?”

Stephen rubbed his chin. "So...they could even be in the Alpha Quadrant..."

I did not say that,” she pointed out. “But they could be anywhere.”

"Ha! You did say that!" Stephen gave a teasing grin. "And I'm quoting you."

“Spires, please don’t suggest that they’re in the alpha quadrant; you’ll only cause a panic,” replied Mara, half amuses and half weary. “And as far as we know, they’re not in the alpha quadrant. Nor the beta, nor any part of our home galaxy. Just because it’s theoretically possible doesn’t mean it’s probable.”

Stephen arched a provocative eyebrow. "Do you mean to tell me Starfleet doesn't already suspect as much?"

With a grin, Mara stood from her chair and resumed pacing and staring at the model she'd worked up. "It doesn't matter what we suspect," she told him. "Suspicions can be wrong. Just imagine what would happen if all the worlds back home got wind that a frighteningly powerful enemy might just be working among them. Can you imagine the chaos? Actually, we don't have to. I remember when we got word that changelings might be wandering around on earth. Everyone was suspicious of everyone else. It was pandemonium! And all for what? Maybe three changelings?" She shook her head. "Do we really want a repeat of that? For something that might not even be true at all?"

"It's not my job to tell people what to do with the news," Stephen said with a shrug. "I just report. Now, if you're all nervous-like, I could always give you a secret code-name. Like Deep Throat."

Mara rolled her eyes. "I'm serious, Spires," she said. "Please don't frighten people until we're sure they need to be frightened. I know you feel a responsibility to report the truth and that's valid. But, please. All I'm asking is that you make absolutely sure that it is the truth before you report it."

"Sometimes a journalist reports the truth, and other times a journalist provides a call to action for the truth to be found. Where you and your authoritarian overlords see only the potential for mass panic and chaos, the free peoples see lives saved through constant vigilance and situational awareness." He colored the contrary statement with a sunny smile. "Besides, I'm not hearing you object to being called Deep Throat."

She could not hide the grin that tugged at her lips no matter how hard she tried. "You'd know," she accused. "Okay, how's this: the Myriad's activities may not be confined to this system. Non-specific enough to keep mass hysteria at bay, but still a warning to be vigilant. And please don't call me Deep Throat. It's gross."

"Better than Hot Twat," Stephen quipped before giving her a kiss on the cheek. "I think I can work with that, though."

"Thank you," she said sincerely, and kissed him gently. "You're the best. And now, I really do need to consult my associate. I'll see you later, okay?"

"Associate?" Stephen asked, somewhere between curious and jealous. "Who's this associate?"

"I told you, Ryan Terry," she replied. "Specifically Master Chief Petty Officer Ryan Terry. He's the one who ended up on the Myriad ship with me."

"Yeah, you'd mentioned a Ryan," Spires admitted, "but you stopped short of calling him your 'associate'..." He let a teasing smile come out. "How do you 'associate' with those 'associate' of yours?"

"Oh, good grief, Spires," she replied with a grin and roll of her eyes. "I work with him. Geez. I didn't take you for someone who would get off on the idea of his girlfriend having associations with another man," she teased back.

"Is that how it is? Maybe I'll go off and have associations with other women. Been awhile since I seduced a personal assistant. Think Ingram's would go for it?" His boyish grin was far more taunting than his words ever could be.

But, Mara was not about to take his bait. "I doubt it," she said with a shrug. "But, if you decide to try, let me know; I could probably sell tickets to a show like that."

"Mara Ricci, you saucy little deviant!" Stephen let out a loud guffaw. "I had no idea you were such a voyeur."

"Spires, you've slept with me, you know what I'm like," she retorted. "But I meant you trying to seduce her, because I don't think it would work very well."

"You've slept with me..." Stephen grinned wider. "... so you know how well it works."

She rolled her eyes and sighed. "You are incorrigible," she said, but one corner of her mouth twitched upwards.

"You're the one who wants to watch me go to work on another piece of booty," Spires said, "but thank you."

"How did we even get into this discussion?" she asked. "Oh, right. I was going to go associate with Mr. Terry."

"Well, I've got a fluff piece to write, so just make sure he uses protection," Spires said, getting up from her desk with a wink. "All's fair unless you go raw-dog."

"Oh, great," she replied. "Now I have to go talk to him with that image in my mind. Thanks."


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