Canopus Station
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If A Cause Is Worth Dying For

Posted on Sun Dec 26th, 2021 @ 2:43am by Commodore Theodore Grissom & The Narrator & Major Samuel Braddock

Mission: S0E0: What Came Before
Location: Canopus Station, Hanger Bay, Classifed Partition
Timeline: Before the arrival of the Carcosians, Feb 2390

The two OSI security goons looked at Major Braddock for a moment. They didn't say anything, and the phaser carbines they carried didn't move an inch. Maybe they were incapable of speech, vat-grown clones only able to take orders and follow through with them. Wouldn't be the strangest thing to happen in the 24th Century.

And then they stepped aside, an archway appearing in the privacy field like an airlock for secrets. Commodore Grissom stood inside, and gestured the Major to step in.

"You could have just commed my office to get my attention, sticking Ingram on me to get a pass in here seems a little mean even for a fighter jock," the older man said with a chuckle.

Sam stepped into the field and felt the small hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He narrowed his eyes slightly at his superior. "I wasn't aware he had contacted you, sir. All I asked for was some additional space in the bay and wondered what was going on." Fighting the urge to look around. "We Marines tend to frown upon skipping the Chain of Command- sir." he said, a hint of humour coming into his voice.

"And my Aunt Margo never cheated at gin rummy a day in her life, and still got banned from Freecloud," Grissom said with a sigh. The door beyond Sam closed, and a sudden overwhelming sensation of observance came over him. A static tingle on the skin, that slight ache in the jawline from a high-powered remote ultrasound, the ozone tinge of ion's being briefing strip-searched and vetted. "Don't worry Major, this arch might be scanning you down to the quark level but it's not caused sterility yet."

"That you know of, Commodore." he said, shrugging his shoulders to try to shake the feeling- it was like ants crawling underneath his skin.

An underdramatic 'bing' sounded as the scan completed, and the inner door sighed open. Beyond it was the advanced maintenance suite that Mathias had talked about. It was conveyor assembly was wide enough for a Gryphon or Peregrine bomber to go through, passing under replicator arches and mechanical manipulators. A Gryphon was even now under automated care of the machine, its armour plate and cowling removed to expose the intestinal tangle of coolant and propellant lines. Though there was a bulge growing from its back, nestled between the engine nacelles.

"Welcome to Dreamworld, Major. A little slice of Starfleet R&D out here in Messier 4," he nodded off to one side at an unfamiliar craft in a partial state of disassembly. It was an arrowhead in overall shape, sleek and sharp looking like black ice. It lacked wings, but instead, a spiked mass of barbs shout out of its backside. "A Reka shard fighter. We've got a cargo bay full of them damaged, and this is one of only two we have in working order. A completely different form of flying and thrust control than we've seen in the Milky Way, not to mention an exotic weapons compliment."

Sam walked towards it, running his hand along what the sleek fuselage and noted that it was ice cold to the touch and vibrated at a frequency he could feel in his teeth. Pulling his hand away, he flexed his fingers and relaxed his jaw. "I've seen the videos and watched these things move-they can execute hairpin turns and flips like nothing I've ever seen. Is that thing powered by some sort of cryogenic plant?" he asked as he moved towards the mass of barbs at the aft end of the craft, taking care not to touch them with his bare hands. "And care to define 'exotic', sir?"

"Something like that. The techs tell me it uses something called a cryoalgorithmic engine to cool the hull plating to within spitting distances of the local background. Basically, it uses math to cheat the laws of thermal dynamics. Only a little bit, but it does trillions of calculations a second so it adds up," Grissom said. "As for the weapons, nothing guided but it has a projected energy weapon system: low powered targeting beam, but the moment it connects a plasma pulse is sent along the beam. The thermal shock can shatter tritanium armour plate, and their big carriers carry a supped up version that clipped a Ronin class cruisers nacelle's off during the Battle of Canopus Station."

"We call it it a plasma lance," Grissoms voice said, but he hadn't been the one to speak. In fact, his lips weren't moving as the voice continued. "As for the stealth technology, it is a poisoned gift of the Myriad. To many of their engines tend to over calculate, turning into runaway engines of entropy that grow comets around the husks of dead Reka. But what care they for the life of disposable soldiers?"

A Reka jumped up onto the remaining wing of the shard fighter. Lanky, with long legs and arms, it crouched down on the wing. Its beaked face, framed by four violet eyes, looked at Sam with suspicion. It was dressed in a standard Federation work suit that hung of its slender frame, the mottled purple-hued feathers rising slightly in a threat display.

"You are not another soldier here to guard treasure," the Reka said, now using Sam's own voice echoing in his head. It hopped down, landing silently on the deck in front of the CAG. "You...appreicate the craft."

Listening to the Commodore’s description, he made mental notes A chill ran down Sam’s spine as he heard Commodore Grissom’s voice coming out of the aether even though his lips weren’t moving. Standing aside slightly to keep both the newcomer and his CO within view, he regarded the creature in front of him and responded without skipping a beat. “I do. This craft- and your people are deserving of my professional respect- the effort put into this machine, regardless of how it was used, is noteworthy.” He said, extending his hand after a brief moment of hesitation. “I’m Samuel” he said, omitting his title intentionally.

The Reka looked down at the hand, its four eyes blinking one after the other.

"I am First Among Liars & Traitors, of the Seven Dancing Shadows Den," Sam's voice said, the Reka's attention returning to the craft. "We made thousands of these. Millions. Enough that we thought to blacken the skies with our number. Each of these is a relic of our hubris. The first Song Stealer betrayed my people to the Myriad on the eve of our revolution, so the old songs go: the first Den mother consecrated in the blood of billions. I willing debase myself to walk in her blooded footsteps to betray the Myriad for our advantage. You may call me Liars if you like, I wear the name with pride for my Den."

The chill along Sam's spine only intensified. "Very well." he said, ducking underneath the craft and again noting the smooth surfaces with no form of heat ventilation. "If one of these has this type of weaponry, I can't imagine what fighting thousands of these would look like. Our capital ships wouldn't stand a chance if these things attacked en masse." Standing back up, Sam looked Liars in the eye. "How do we fight against these? Better yet, how do we adapt these weapons for our own use?" he asked Liars.

"We do not know," Liar's said, this time picking up a voice from a passing tech. "As I said, millions of these ships were made. We know how to fly them, and to fight them, but the Myriad does not trust us to know the history of our clever deception, less we think above our station once more. As for fighting them, many a small bird can drive away a hawk. But a hawk, has talons enough to kill them. There is a limited number of feral Reka in this system, they will not be reinforced. Attrition will be your blooded ally."

"Which is why," Grissom cut in. "This half of the hanger bay is reserved for OSI's team of tame reverse engineers. We have a rapid prototype of a plasma lance being made, but the problem is scale wise it's as big as a Gryphon fighter."

Sam stopped for a moment. "So what you're saying, this would need to be welded onto an actual starship..." he said as his voice trailed off. "What about strapping it to one of the defensive platforms?" he asked Commodore Grissom. "Short of rigging it to a hull of something like a Defiant, it's the only thing I can think of." he said, slightly unsure of his suggestion. He had heard some stories of the Defiant being overpowered enough to nearly shake itself apart.

"We're working on some solutions, some ideas. Strategizing as it were," Grissom grumbled. "Messier 4's throwing us a lot of curveballs, showing that we've been sat on our asses in the Milky Way at a technological plateau. Do not be alarmed if you end up being the recipient of gifts from the OSI tech-heads. All of this, the Myriad, the Concordance and the Reka just gives all them pointy heads ideas."

He shivered.

"Downright unsettling sometimes if I'm honest, but that's genius for you: side by side with madness half the time," Grissom gestured over to a corner of the bay. A larger cargo crawler was being escorted across the deck by a gaggle of techs carrying what at first glance looked like the shard from an ice comet. It was only on a second glance that the refracted image from within the ice cladding could be seen to have vaguely familiar lines of a starfighter cockpit module. "That's going straight into the sun. We tried rigging a Gryphon with a cryoalgorithmic engine salvaged from one of the Reka ships, didn't work so the egg heads tried to make their own. Instant ice cube maker. They call it a 'partial application of thermal reductionisim'."

Sam held up his hand, astonished at the sentiment the Commodore was expressing. "So we're throwing away a potentially valuable piece of tech because we don't understand it and hit a few missteps? That goes against everything the Federation stands for, sir. I get that we're years away from Federation space but we can't just throw this thing away- we don't know when we'll be able to get our hands on another one of these again." Sam paused for a moment. "Something tells me that half of these problems could be fixed if we just applied more power to contain them instead of using the smallest amount possible."

Turning to Liars, he motioned. "Take a look at that- what else could that engine be used for?" he asked the avian like figure.

"I am not an engine singer," Liar's said borrowing the voice of one of the techs escorting the ice cube. "Tactics...huum...If the way the engine broke could be duplicated, as a weapon it might have use. Many Reka Den's use hollowed-out asteroids as nests, and these might well be useful in locking them inside for ease of killing."

"Almost like cracking a tough walnut. I don't see why we can't replicate this with capital ships as well, sir. Imagine if we froze a ship in its tracks, then finished it with a well-placed quantum torpedo down their superstructure." Sam suggested, watching the mover continue to take the engine for its appointment with oblivion.

"That idea does seem to have the hint of possibility to it," Grissom said. "But there is a nautical mile between an idea and practical implementation."

"And I don't disagree, sir but I think we can close that distance if we bring in the right engineers and I know just the one- Lieutenant Commander Ricci and Chief Mithias. If anyone will be able to help scale this down or replicate the tech, it's them." Sam said, a slight smirk on his face. If he had a weakness, it was his overconfidence. "If this fails, I'll hand over my oak leaves and you can put me in some deep, dark corner of space for the rest of my time. Sir." he said, adding in the Commodore's honorific as he had almost forgotten.

"How about we try it first and see how it goes before we go making promises that a board of inquiry might find questionable intent in huum?" Grissom said. He looked back to his tech wonderland. "Huh. I can't free up this space for your fighters. It's a bootstrap problem: we need tech, and this is how we'll get it. No tech, no advantage and we play the underdog. What I can do is have the construction ship Wisdom Like Silence fab some repair drones to help get your Squadrons up to speed."

"Very good, sir. The Chief will be pleased." Sam said "And what about my unstable engine?" he asked, making an offhand gesture.


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