Canopus Station
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Rabbit Hole or Whatever

Posted on Thu May 5th, 2022 @ 1:59am by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Lieutenant Commander Jillian Toomey

Mission: S2:4: If Not Like A Mirror
Location: Canopus Station, Station Administrators Office
Timeline: MD-2 1345

"Come, Rabbit," JT ordered her attache that she had long since forgotten the name of the being, but he was useful. "We have fuckery to commit!" She declared as she left the Operations Center and headed towards the one place on the station she hated more than anywhere else.

The Captain's Office.

Gal'dwyn was right on her heels, bounding to keep up. Normally a hurried conversation would have been had, but the long-eared alien had forged a quick opinion that when the long-legged humans got going it was just easier to help pick up the pieces where they landed.

Once there, she looked at Rabbit. "Whatever I said, say it can be done. I f you disagree with me, I will make Hassenpfeffer for Ingrams. If you have a better idea, tell me now."

"I have absolutely no idea what you are planning or intend to say," Gal'dwyn said breathlessly. "But I think you've begun to form enough of a cult of personality in the Op's department that certain working groups intend to 'ride or die' with you. If you need an honour guard, I suggest the Delta Shift Cargo Tug pilots."

Gal'dwyn looked at the sealed doors to Ingrams office.

" we have an appointment? Captian Ingram seems to the sort to incinerate if you're not on his day planner," they worried. That custom made datapad was in hand, and keystrokes chirped in the air. "I'm sure I can get us an allotted time sometime tomorrow..."

"Screw an appointment," JT said. "I want to take the nanites from the Portia Protocol and use them to..." She leaned forward and whispered something in his ear.

Gal'dwyns ears shoot up far more than was usual, with the dark violet of their eyes a much deeper shade in shock.

"I...I-I-I mean I an agree with all of that, and nod but...but Ma'am the Self Replicating Machine Act, the Captian-" Gal'dwyn cut himself off. There was the potential for his boss to turn him into a lunch for Ingram, which was unlikely but not beyond the scope of reality. "If I might suggest recalling the events of the Ebony Plague of Telus IV?"

The so-called Ebonyb Plague had been the accidental love child of Federation science trying to do something radical and new. Self-replicating nanomachines interlaced into a self-sustaining and updating network, in short the designers had called it Smart Matter. It could become most things, altering its structure to make itself into a cup or a bulkhead. On small scale test models it had been able to 'print' inanimate objects from digested biomatter, the same principle of matter conversion technology prevalent in replicators.

It was in the large scale application that the terms 'grey-goo' and 'hubris without bounds' began to be bandied about. A large scale prototype ship was constructed in the orbiting Telus shipyards. A Nova class by its design template, the hull and superstructure were made entirely of Smart Matter. All was going well, until the Smart Matter began migrating off of the new construction and onto the Dry Dock gantry. From there it spread like a plague, carried in tool packs and Worker Bees, until the entire Telus Ship Yard was infected with patches of Smart Matter.

Smart Matter once activated via a programming signal, proceeded to report numerous repair faults which it dutifully tried to fix. Support beams grew out of turbolift shafts. Nacelle housings radiated along Starbase exteriors in dizzying fractal patterns. By the end of a day the shipyard looked like it was a surrealist nightmare. Starfleet Engineering encased everything touched by Smart Matter in non-reactive monocule diamond, black ice caking every dry dock, starship, shuttle and open space within the numerous space habitats in orbit of Telus.

To this day, the Ebony Plague of Telus IV has been the clarion call to everyone who sees's any use of self-replicating nanomachines as playing with fire.

"Do I look like I care?" JT asked him.

" convincing," Gal'dwyn said with two tiny thumbs up.

"You got it," Jillian said before she marched up to Ingram's door and bashed on the door chime several times.

The first time Gal'dwyn didn't flinch, but by the third, his ears were twitching like the needle on a Geiger counter. In his mind plans were formed to jump up and grab her hands, or perhaps find a med pack with a sedative patch in it. Extreme measures to be sure, but as there was only one Gal'dwyn it was unlikely she'd make only a single rabbit slipper out of rage. But that did not come to pass.

Ingram opened the door to his office, a scowl on his face melting slightly as he noticed who had been tap-tapping on his chamber door.

"If you're testing the functionality of the door chime, bravo you have accomplished your task," Ingram said dryly.

JT took one of Gal's ears not so lovingly in her free hand and gave a not so gentle squeeze as she breezed past Ingram as if he had cordially invited her in. "It's a pleasure to see you as well, Captain," she said as she dragged Rabbit in her wake if he wasn't fast enough to keep up. It was a shame he hadn't gotten the hang of roller skates, but she still found herself dragging him around.

"I'm calling in my carte blanche."

Still at his door, Ingram sighed and closed it behind him, and followed Toomey back into his office. Walking around to his side of the desk, he settled into his chair and looked at Toomey.

"I assume with something substantial and not a requisition for the largest classical ice cream scope on the replicator inventory?" Ingram asked dryly.

"Don't mistake me for your Chief Engineer, Captain," JT said. "I need twenty-five percent of the station evacuated immediately and I have a plan to get us all going in the general direction of away from here."

"Alright, elucidate: why only 25%? If you're planning on fabricating impulse drives and bolting them to the hull there are hardpoints for them on the underside of the main dome. So clearly you're taking a path reserved for wider thinking," Ingram evaluated.

"It's going to take a quarter of the station to make those drives, Captain," JT said. "I want to initiate Project Portia and use the station to make those impulse drives."

"Project...Portia?" Ingram said slowly, teasing the words from his gullet the same way another man might pull a fishbone from the same. He tapped a few buttons on his console, and holo panes appeared above his desk displaying corridors sealed off with hazard holograms. Normal enough looking corridors, until halfway down the floor and ceiling began to pinch inwards, forming the mackerel bone like ribs of a warp coil assembly. The other holo panes showed similar sites: hull plates bisecting crew quarters, EPS conduits branching out in all directions.

And one showed the inert, power drained form of the USS Magnificent.

"The self-same nanotechnology plague your ship let loose as some sort of 'black box' disaster protocol?" Ingram asked.

"I don't think Commander Toomey would call it a plague," Gald'wyn said from beneath the edge of the desk.

"No, but I think I did. A couple of times, in a briefing room with Commodore Grissom and a soon to be Operations Chief," Ingram said cooly. He looked at Toomey. "I gave you carte blanche for a reason, and that reason was the need for radical ideas. Colour me impressed. But an impulse drive will only get us moving at sublight speeds. We need to transport the station across interstellar distances."

"Fine," JT said and gave a nod of approval at Rabbit for defending her personal plague. "The plan just got radically changed, Captain. My only other option is to use Portia to redesign the entire station into a starship. We use every bit of antimatter we have for the warp drive, and we go in the general direction of the fuck away from here."

"Barring that, we could alternatively build an Iconian Gateway and hope we end up in a hospitable place as we have no directions." She stopped. "Or we could ask Portia if they have the schematics for the Borg transporter I once heard a rumor about."

"Given Iconian technology is on par with the Priors when it comes to user-friendliness, we'll give that a pass," Ingram said. He leaned back in his chair. "Redesign the entire station into a starship? Now that...that is interesting."

"Computer, bring up every class of starship capable of mass transport and warp capability," JT requested. As the computer compiled a list, she began to refine it, adding cold stasis chambers and began to add in colony class transports that could be modified to go to warp.

A small flotilla of holographic models began to populate the desktop. Some were blocky, utilitarian affairs, others clearly designed to come apart into the building blocks of a fledgling colony. Most revolved around the idea of a central skeletal space frame with an engine at one end, a command and control centre at the front, and a long spin from which cargo and habitation modules could be attached. A few of the outlier designs were clearly from the Starfleet Marine Corp docks, being blocky angular troop ships tailor-made to be rammed into the ground to make instant bunker fortifications.

Ingram stepped around beside her, and with a flourish, the conical form of Canopus Station appeared above the models, titled onto its side.

"If needs be we could pack the docking dome with cold stasis units, our version of Cargo Reef," Ingram muttered. "It's a large vacant space we can build into without too much hue and cry. A lot of it uses traditional manufacturing methods. Computer, high light on station diagram major structural nodes."

The holo of the station began to be filled with a skeleton of dull blue lines, branching out like a stubby tree through out its interior.

"Overlay infected areas mentioned in the Portia incident," he said. This time a ruddy mass branched out from under part of the dome, and then down and through the Agri Dome and service core of the station.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say Portia had planned to make itself useful. It assimilated itself into the framework near the major load-bearing struts, so we can..." Ingram drew off. "You can control it yes? You've tested your idea in a controlled manner?"

JT smiled like a politician as she looked at the overlayed areas that Portia had already spread to. Barring her limited interaction with Portia and the subsequent matter rejecting transport process which left her questioning if she really was her or not, she hadn't the faintest idea of what else she could do with Portia.

"I have, Sir," she lied. "I have both experimented with Portia in the lower range of what it can do, and the high end of what it can do. Unfortunately, diplomatic protocols prevent me from elaborating on these experiments. However, you must trust me if we are to make Canopus great again."

"Such sentiments often come at great cost," Ingram said. He reached his hands out into the hologram, enlarging it until the station proper had vanished, and a curved section of the hull between Agri-Dome and the reactor was on show. With another gestural command, one of the more modern designs for Colony ships appeared, and with a few deft movements, he'd plucked it apart like a pheasant. He set the now denuded warp nacelle along the hull, stationing its connecting spar with the area of the hull which was closest to Portia's infected strut.

"Your test," Ingram said and gestured to the hologram. "We'll start with one. Work out the teething problems, because this will have them regardless of the bullshit you mistakenly think hides the fact we're working with fire. It'll need connecting to the main EPS grid, as well as a plasma feed. Don't set the fed to come from the main station reactor, it's an Antimatter fusion generator, good for power but not warp. For that, we'll need a donor warp core of suitable voltage."

He zoomed the display out, showing the cylinder of hull they were working with.

"Factoring in the added tonnage of moving the entire Carpathia colonies population, as well as anything else we can cram into the dome...we'll need at least eight Class-A warp nacelles. We just need to make a stable warp field that is over two kilometres in diameter," he mused.

"Two...kilometers? Eight nacelles. Where are we getting the antimatter ..." She remembered the two Century Class Captains that were set to blow her, the Magnificent and the crew of fuckheads she had been forced to command on a suicide mission they somehow managed to survive. "I know where we can get four nacelles and two warp cores in great shape," JT said.

"The station is over a kilometre and a half long, trust me a warp field this big will fluctuate and if part of the station slips into unaltered space at even a fraction of light speed we'll know about it a fraction of a second before we're blown to steaming bits." Ingram crossed his arms, looking at the hologram. "Let me worry about the antimatter. Believe it or not before Starfleet I was something of a mad boffin."

"You? No, Sir," JT said in a less than believable voice. "And Grissom has those two unused Century class ships.."

"Unused and under his command. Task Force Hecate is...problematic, the Office of Special Investigation has the full confidence of the Commander in Chief of Starfleet and Federation Council. Given..." Ingram's voice trailed off. "There have been events in the Alpha Quadrant that have seen their stock rise in the eyes of the powerful. If you can get him to agree to hand over two battlecruisers for the breakers yards, do not be alarmed to find yourself in debt to a devil."

"Maybe I'll steal them in that case," she said as she mused several options, none fully thought out. "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, after all. Not that I'm very good at that. However, I do have diplomatic immunity, so he couldn't prosecute me. He could make my life a living hell, though. So, this is now my embassy, Captain." She gestured around his office. "In the event Grissom gets another wild hair. You are my first Ambassador."

"You have moxy, Commander Toomey, but even you have limits. I happen to think the crews of those ships might wonder as to why you come with cinder blocks to place under the hull like a thief in a bad part of town," Ingram chuckled. He clapped his hands, and the hologram vanished. "That being said, it might come to that. Though I do happen to know where a pair of unused nacelles in...some what used condition are kept. And they are certainly not being used by anyone down in Landersfell."

"As long as they aren't from my ship," JT said. "Although it may come to scavenging that as well. Anyhow, that's my carte blanche idea, Captain. Fly it past Grissom and see if he salutes. If he doesn't, I'll be taking my ship, crew and hyena and going in the general direction of away from here. At warp."


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