Canopus Station
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It Came From Galactic North

Posted on Fri Nov 12th, 2021 @ 1:41pm by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & The Narrator & Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci & Lieutenant Commander Jillian Toomey & Lieutenant Commander Meilin Jiang & Major Tatiana Skobelova & Major Samuel Braddock & Lieutenant Commander Amie Cerys & Lu'kat

Mission: S2:3: If Not Like A Mirror
Location: Canopus Station, Main Operations
Timeline: MD 1 9.30UTC

"Erm...Commander Toomey?"

The tentative, mouse-like voice, came from the door to an office that had been a jack of all trades for a long time. At first vacant, then used for storage, and then for a time home to a customs enforcement officer who had found his life calling in hiding bottles of alcohol in surprising places. Following that, a succession of Operations Officers of various ranks had called it their own, before it had been assigned to Toomey as the haven for the Chief of Operations.

The small voice, belonging to a small bipedal alien with long ears and struck a shocking resemblance to a large hip sized rabbit in a Starfleet uniform, cleared their throat again. A Leporidite, from some planet that had a Disney resort on it or something.

"I didn't know if you wanted cream or sugar in your coffee, so I got both just in case," they said, and with delicate long footed strides placed two cups on her desk. And then just stood there...waiting...

"If God had long hair, and a goatee
And if his eyes were pretty glazed
If he looked spaced out
Would you buy his story?
Would you believe he had an eye infection?

And yeah, yeah, God looks baked
Yeah, yeah, God smells good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
What if God smoked cannabis?
Hit the bong like some of us?
Drove a tye-dyed micro-bus?
And he subscribes to Rolling Stone?"


JT looked at the Mad Hatter as it, he? she? stood there with the coffee and tried to place its species. Aha! A Leporidite. Yes, she could definitely see it with a top hat on and places to go. "Thank you..." She hadn't gotten a name, so she looked for its rank insignia.

"Sensor specialist First Class Gal'dwyn'frol'dwyn," they said cheerily and placed the cups of coffee onto the top of the desk, extending their height to do so by standing up on their long feet. "I've been assisting with the Op's chief position for a while now, helping to keep a sense of operational continuity as we seem to get a new commander every few weeks. And you would be the first to transfer in from another reality."

Gal'dwyn...Gal. Gal is a good name with the correct number of apostrophes in it.

"I...I am so sorry that was inappropriate and crass," Gal said, ears dropping like wings.

"You're fine, and sugar, no cream for my coffee," JT said. "Specialist Gal'downy'fro'downy," she managed to mangle his name.

"Gal'dwyn is fine ma'am. It helps if you're able to speak on a inhale as well as an exhale," the diminutive operations officer hopped up onto a seat, standing on it so as to be on a more level playing field. From somewhere on their person they pulled out a padd sized for their species. "Right so...I don't know if you've settled into the role fully, but we did have some ongoing actions I think you might want to know about. Logistics stuff, staffing levels, KPI's and all that fun stuff. Speaking of which, you have a request for a meeting with the Captains of the USS Harrington and USS Victory. Let see...Guild Master Gorkey of the Space Miners Guild is 'requesting' priority docking for his ships in Canopus's repair bays. And we have a meeting scheduled for 1400 hours to begin planning out the logistics train for the preliminary survey and construction work on the Peel Tower settlements, so I've set a reminder on your personal feed so you can keep your ears perked up so as to not miss it."

Gal tapped a button on their padd.

"Then we move on to departmental issues...Delta Shift in Space Traffic Control want to talk to you about dimming the operations lights to help with eye strain? And you have safety briefings for the dockworkers, have you met the Dockers Union 1041? Their nice, if somewhat fragrant," Gal continued show casing the ability to speak and breathe at the same time.

Some species had all the luck.

JT took things as she was able to and left a string of notes in her mind. "Give me the breakdown on the Captains of the USS Harrington and USS Victory, then put Guild Master Gorkey at the tail end of priority, which means he gets none. Then tell me about the Peel Tower settlements and finally, increase the lighting in Traffic Control. They just want to take naps. Are for the union, red tape them to death. Go."

"Both captains jointly requested the meeting, but their ships are not docked at the stations. They are currently at Lagrange point berthing anchorage along with most of Taskforce Hecate. The reason given was 'personal inquiry', and other than that I have no clue. I will put Guild Master Gorkey at the tail end for maintenance. I will make a note of the light settings for the Delta Shift, and...well that's why the Dockers Union want you to instigate mandatory safety briefings. Apparently, they are reporting there are non-union workers on the docks who lack both the training and-" Gal'wyn's voice was cut off as the office's recessed lighting shifted from its normal daylight glow to a softly glowing yellow.

The fact the change in colour also came with Gal'wyn's ears flattening and the dull broken bell chime of a Yellow Alert probably meant something to.

"And that's a wrap for now," she said as she came to her feet. "Schedule the Dockers union meeting."

Outside on the Op's floor organised chaos was unfolding. The large spherical display hologram had blown up, showcasing the entire Carpathia star system in a simplified format. The Builder's and their Star Jammers were a fuzzy orb where two twin ice giants use to be. Then there were the asteroid belts, the bane of fighter pilots and miners alike. Then Tangerine Dream, its grab bag of moons, and the only frozen yoghurt shop in Messier 4. And then a few sun blasted cinder worlds and the aforementioned star.

And at the edge of the system, the orange contact pips for sensor contacts had appeared. Three of them, their arrow shaped markers pointed in towards the system.

"Three contacts just dropped out of slipspace at the heliopause," the STC operator nearest to Toomey said. "Minimal gravimetric ripple. I don't think we'd have seen any of them if they came in one at a time with all of the system noise. And even then I'd not bet on it."

"Give me the rundown on them," JT told Gal'dwyn. "I believe that they want to be seen and now. Status of their weapons?" she asked the other operator.

"No weapon signatures at present, but they are way out on the edge of the system," the STC operator said. "Sensor put them at half impulse heading in system in convoy formation. Three confirmed ships. Lead and aft bogeys are four hundred meters in length, gravitic displacement puts it in a comparable tonnage range to an Akira class. Middle bogey is eight hundred meters, comparable to a Sovereign-class in weight."

As they spoke the holosphere lit up, displaying the trio of targets. They all shared a design philosophy that was vaguely oceanic in its bent: narrow hulls with a pair of vertically stacked warp nacelles at the aft like a fin. If the two smaller vessels might be likened to Mackerels, then the one in the escort position was a shark. It had a twin stack of nacelles, and whilst its nose was pointed its flanked flared out slightly. These were not ships of exploration by any means, these were a trio of out and out warships.

"Oh. Sheet," she murmured before she slapped the panic button that only senior officers could slap. Unless they were all dead, then it went down the chain of command, next in command and "RED ALERT!" issued from every speaker on the station and the lightning changed from yellow to red. "Multiple inbound vessels!"

The lighting shifted to a pulsing red, and the control panels and display holo screens shifting to a blue lighting to aid in vision. Voices went from a cackle of overlapping chatter to an almost choral chant of protocols and orders.

"-barrier shields energizing, prioritizing facets facing towards Bogey's one through three."
"Outer Shore Battery stations all read online and linked in. Inner Shore Battery Station 4 reporting a failure on their rail launchers-"
"Station phaser canons coming online, station power rerouting to the secondary shielded power bus."

"May this linger shadow pass over those who are virtuous," Gal'dywn said in a hurried little prayer.

"Ops to Engineering, we need a team to Inner Shore Battery Station 4!" JT called out.

"Lu'kat to Ops," came the urgent and annoyed voice of the station's resident Cardassian from his office, "Make fixing that Battery your top priority, it's leaving Cardassia-bound cargo vulnerable to attack. A whole year of revenue could be lost. It'll be on Starfleet's bill if it is." The Cardassian grunted with displeasure as he got up to go to Ops. "Let it be known I'm filing a formal complaint about this. Starfleet is supposed to guarantee the safety of our assets Messier-side."

"Which is harder to do when you're using the diplomatic channel to throw disorder into the situation," Benjamin Ingram said as he stepped out hatchway from his office, and descended the short flight of stairs that led to it. "To be clear this situation is being recorded, and your actions could be seen as paracausal to any losses suffered."

As he spoke he glowered at the holo sphere, frowning.

"I think Commander Meilin's par amour has returned," he muttered to himself. "Someone find my Chief Science Officer? Commander Toomey, report?"

Lu'kat would have scowled at his combadge if he could. "Paracausal?", he muttered to himself. While he admitted to a certain level of respect to the Station's commander, sometimes Lu'kat felt an urge to throw him into the middle of a Cardassian desert. Naked. He'd make the use of unnecessary ambivalent nomenclature a point of interest in his complaint. For the only Shore Batteries to fail to be the exact ones guarding Cardassian assets, that was too specific to be coincidental, a child could see that. Arriving on Ops he asked Lieutenant Commander Toomey: "Has the repair team arrived already?"

"They're in route, Sir," JT said as her fingers moved across the console. She brought up a submenu and selected something, then set it to play in Lu'kat 's quarters at maximum volume. Klingon opera at its finest. "Opening hailing frequencies."

Ingram made a note to have a talk to Toomey about her actions. Sometime later. Eventually. If there was time.

"Lieutenant Christian here," came the belated reply from Engineering. "I think Ricci is up to her elbows in gel packs at the moment. I'll get a team out to the Battery station immediately."

"Ricci was climbing through Jeffries tubes with her arms full, Mara's voice came through the comm. "What's wrong with Batterry Station 4?"

"They are reporting a failure in the magnetic rail launchers. Without them, there's no way they can launch a System Defense Torpdeo clear of the moons gravity well. The SDT's are basically armoured warp nacelles, that collide at high .C with their targets. No impulse, minimal guidance," the Ops control said. "Inner Batteries 5 and 8 are in orbital positions to patch the gap in BT-4's coverage. Systems good to lose 25% of its stations before holes begin to appear."

A data bar appeared below the holographic map, a sound bar twitching in time with the spoken words.

"United Federation of Planet's Expedition, this is Forward Commander Larkin of the RCNS Dauntless hailing. We come in peace and good fellowship on the behest of the leadership of the Reciprocity of Carcosia carrying diplomatic staff and messages. Do we have permission to enter deeper into the system and dock with your station?"

"We come in peace," JT mumbled under her breath as she checked the origin of the hail and for anything under it that might be pigging backing on it. "Sir, the hail we just got did not originate from the three ships on sensors. It originated from the nadir of the star. Also, we can use tractor beams to launch the STD's."

"Someone throw up a sensor feed from the nadir point," Ingram said and gestured to the holosphere. A moment later a larger image imposed itself above the rest, showing an empty starfield with heavy glare filling the bottom half of the screen. For a moment there didn't seem to be anything there, until stars twinkled gently and the image zoomed in...

Ten vessels sat in a wall-like formation above the north pole of Carpathia's star. Five of them were the small light cruisers seen at the edge of the system, but there were dwarfed by the remaining vessels. Those five were whales, with four sets of warp nacells mounted radially at the fore and aft of their long spindle-shaped hulls. A conning tower rose from their middles like the fin of a shark, and along their midsection weapons port ran like a stripe.

"Carcosian's," Ingram grumbled. "Stand us down from Red Alert and take us to Yellow, Commander. We've just been shown that our neighbours are more than capable of ghosting into the system."

“Oh, good, that means I can stop running,” came Mara’s voice through the comm once again. “Christian, have that team meet me at that Battery station at once, but tell them not to run.”

“On it!” came the reply from Engineering.

Typically, Amie didn't rush up to Operations when red alert went off. She would monitor the situation from her office, and typically, she wasn't needed. However, she was in between her office and quarters, and found going to Operations faster than back again. After all, she was technically still on duty for a bit more. But by the time she'd gotten there, the red alert had gone back to the previous yellow alert she caught before. Eyebrow raised, she listened to the conversation. "Well, this certainly is interesting."

====== Fighter GF-2001 ======

Sam was forced back in the cockpit of his fighter as the magnetic catapults fired his fighter off into space. Taking a quick glance to port and starboard, he saw the rest of the alert squadron being fired out into the blackness of the vacuum, shimmering silver seraphs with the blue glow of their nacelles punctuating the darkness. Taking hold of the stick, he activated his impulse engines and opened a comm channel to the squadron.

"Alright, Alert Squadron- form up on me in an echelon formation and let's keep it nice and loose. Patrol, stay in formation around the station- we can't let them get taken by surprise. Recon element, set sensors to full and patch into station comms, I want them to get a picture of what we're looking out at here. And for everything good, stay out of the Station's firing solution!" Flipping back to the command channel, he addressed Captain Ingram. "Canopus Actual, alert squadron is forming up and on a bearing towards the contacts."

"Copy that Alert Squadron. All data feeds are tied into the station mesh net and are syncing correctly."The professional, business-like voice of the STC control assigned to them stated from the safety of the stations Op's centre. After a moment Ingram's voice broke in.

"Major, incoming craft are identified as Carcosian. We don't know if they have a small craft contingent, but let us assume they have a comparable force to your own. We'll keep you updated and assign tasking when this situation evolves," Ingram grumbled.

Sam's thumb rubbed the weapons activation switch and kept his head on a swivel for any uninvited guests.

===========

As Gunnery Sergeant McCord entered the command module, he flung his PADD at Captain Calhoun. "Your simulation is garbage." McCord, his armor covered in a thick layer of Carpatian dust, bellicosely told Calhoun.

Calhoun snarled back at McCord. "If you are not up to the challenge Gunnery Sergeant, maybe I should replace you with someone who is?" Calhoun threatened the senior NCO.

"Challenge? Your simulation is bloody impossible! The Concord infantry you programed are faster than Klingons with weapons and tougher than Jem'hadar to kill. Our phasers are near useless, it takes isometric disrupters to kill any OPFOR. Your intentionally trying to make it impossible!" McCord was slowly losing his temper.

"Skobelova was always a poor judge of character. You have no business being in a command position, McCord. This training operation proves your inabilities and I'll have you replaced." Calhoun coolly told McCord.

McCord clinched his armored fist and was about to respond when a female voice spoke up. "Major Skobelova does not agree with your assessment, Captain." Tatiana replied to Calhoun. "Do you remember who the marine rank system works, Captain? As a Major I outrank you, regardless of what you may think of my judgment."

Calhoun only clinched his jaw and stared back at Tatiana.

"Nothing to say, Captain?" She asked. "Good, now get the troops in order. We are returning to Canopus Station."

"Why, because you can't handle my simulation?" Calhoun taunted Tatiana.

"Gunny McCord is right, your simulation is garbage. But no. The station has gone to red alert, we've been recalled." Tatiana informed them.




"So," Ingram said in a voice that did not so much as command attention, as have it bestowed on him by the Holy writ of a God of Cruel And Usual Punishments. It was a voice for clearing the chatter from classrooms, for commanding the attention of a crowd, and for demanding the bodily invocation of a manager. It was a voice Benjamin Ingram had once overheard being referred to as his 'Don't make me come over there' voice.

It was also the kind of voice that made the elderly seek the comfort blanket of deep religious fixation, but that is neither here nor there.

"We have a visiting flotilla of thirteen," he looked back over his shoulder at the holo display. "Well, thirteen, for now, Carcosian ships. If this were the Alpha Quadrant this wouldn't even be abnormal, but this is Messier 4 and a first for our station. We have yet to have the pleasure of shore leave parties gumming up the decks, nor some of their more adventurous officers finding their way into more exclusive areas of the station."

His eyes settled on Toomey.

"We know from when the Dauntless crashed out of slipstream last year that their docking adapters can mate with our airlocks, but water, air, station power these are all things we'll need to be prepared to provide at quantity. I want the peir side tuned like a orchestral violin."

"Of course, Sir," JT said and wondered why they extra of everything, but didn't ask.

Then onto the Marine and her gaggle of battle rattle clad followers.

"Given the military bent of the Carcosian's, I'm placing essential station security under your preview Major. Engineering, command, the armoury: all the usual suspects. If you'd want to patrol it for Romulan spies back home, I want a Marine in full kit there to make sure someone doesn't take a wrong turn."

"I'll liaison with security. They should know their way around the station and I'll have them attach themselves to marine patrols. I'm also going to set up a large QRF near engineering and the command center. Those would be two likely targets should there be a boarding action." Tatiana informed Ingram.

"Mara," he said, turning to...no one. His frown intensified as he spoke to the air. "Chief Engineer Ricci, once you've sent your repair crew off to see what the battery stations problem is I want all systems triple checked. Carcosian's us exotic technology, I want to make sure we don't end up docking a ship that syphons magnetic fields or some such off of the main reactor."

"One thing at a time, sir," replied Mara. "A level three diagnostic would take several hours. I'm not sure we have that much time, but being that we literally just ran one last night, I would think a Level 1 would do it. And it'll only take ten minutes."

Ingram's face made a sour look, but said nothing.

"Commander Ceyrs," Ingram said, steepling his fingers together and then pointing them at her. "Finally, you have actual work to do. We have visiting dignitaries, officers, no doubt hangers-on and so forth. How best do you believe as our Intelligence officer to farm such a rich vein of potential information?"

Amie raised an eyebrow at the question from Ingram. It'd been a while since she'd actually had to think about that. "What I do best: act like I'm not actually trying to farm for information."

"So...pretty much what you've been doing since you arrived here," Ingram said in a voice two degree's shy of being snide and condescending.

"And finally..." Ingram said, looking around before scowling. "Will someone please by Blue Fire find me my damn Chief Science Officer before I go about doing her bloody job for myself?!"

"Rest assured, Captain Ingram, that absolutely no one would expect that of you." Meilin's velvety voice was the only warning Benjie had when she sidled up next to him. Their shadows could have blended. "What scientific conundrum besets you today?"

Lu'kat relaxed his guard a little, but not too much. Every other day this station seemed to have to deal with some threat or other, with various degrees of personal risk attached. It had its effect on the crew, even on him. The people on Canopus station were never completely at ease, never completely felt safe, and it was eating away at them, influencing their behaviour in subtle ways. Their hostility towards the resident Cardassian, for example, had picked up over the last couple of months. Lu'kat found himself butting heads with Starfleet officials more and more. Something would have to be done about that, before it would get out of hand, next time it might be more than a simple 'shore battery malfunction'. Food for thought.

"Commander Meilin, so glad of you to finally join us in what can only be a record-setting muster to a red alert call," Ingram shot back venomonously. He then gestured to the holo display as the recorded voice of Forward-Commander Larkin repeated his docking request. "It seems we have a flotilla of visitors arriving."

"Shall I inform Commander Calida?" Meilin asked sweetly. "She is the diplomat, after all."

"If she is not already aware of events," Ingram said guardedly. "I'm assigning you as our station liaison, given the success of the cultural exchange you orchestrated before."

Ingram did not wait to hear back from his CSO, and instead activated the comm system.

"Major Braddock, we have guests. Send out a flight to both groups of Carcosian vessels to escort them in. If you so happen to send one or two of the recon fighters out in those groups with their ears open, I'm not sure we'd worry to much about that," Ingram said to the air.

 

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