Episode 4: Whispers In the Dark
Location: Planet's Surface
For once Audrid was the first to step into the Transporter Room, with the last away mission in mind she had made sure to come armed. One never knew what was waiting for you.
"Set the coordinates" Audrid ordered from the Transporter Operator as she turned to the door to wait for the rest of her team.
Whilst the transporter operator nodded and got to work locking in the coordinates, a small team of three additional scientists and engineers joined the party, led by the Andorian, Lieutenant th’Zorati. “The Captain felt a few extra hands might be beneficial ma’am,” the blue skinned woman revealed as her Antananarivo moved freely atop her head.
"The more the merrier, Lieutenant. Especially so I have to listen to less science talk" Audrid joked
“Just like my father,” the Engineer grinned as she placed her satchel of equipment on the floor and adjusted her uniform slightly. “No patience when it comes to the sciences,” the Andorian revealed. “Give him a combat scenario over a scientific mission any day of the week,” she concluded.
Arnon entered the transporter room wearing the field uniform. He had a Type II hand phaser, a medical tricorder, and a medkit. His phaser was in a cross draw in his left side and the shoulder strap of his medkit was hung diagonally from his left shoulder to his right hip. The medical tricorder was in the lower right front pocket of his jacket, and his other pockets contained various useful items.
Due to being a sensory empath, Arnon could actually detect physical aliments without a medical tricorder. However, he found that using both his abilities and the medical tricorder gave him a better idea of the extent of a person's medical condition.
"Greetings Commander, Lieutenant," Arnon said. He turned to the transporter technician. "And to you as well, Petty Officer."
"Counsellor," Tempestava smiled and nodded respectfully to the senior officer. "I'm looking forward to putting my feet back on solid earth for once," the Andorian informed as she started to load some components onto the pad for transport.
Arnon stepped up, chose a transporter pad, and stood on it.
Yole entered the transporter room, the field vest of the new uniforms it still itched, but it had a useful amount of pockets. A type-ii holstered on her hip and a tricorder in the jacket pocket, she nodded to the commander. "Hopefully this is a less eventful excursion then the last one."
DeLucia entered and stepped on the transporter pad. He seemed to mentally check the other scientists to make sure who he wanted from his department was along, and then nodded to himself. "Looks like we're all here boss. Wadda say we get this show of ours on the road?"
Yole moved onto the padd and took up a position near the back, waiting for the XO to give the order to beam them down.
Audrid nodded. "Yes, let's meet with the good doctor." She said as she stepped onto the platform herself, once everyone was ready she turned to the Transporter Operator. "Energize"
The away team would be transported a few dozen metres away from the research facility. To the extent you could truly give it that label.
On the surface of Nerey'n, a loan figure cloaked in a white gown stood at the entrance to the cave network that had become the home of the Federation scientists for a number of months. The desert like terrain and incredible heat of the summer months made the world practically uninhabitable without severe terraforming, but that had to wait for now whilst their investigation continued with the help of their new visitors. The scientists stood, hood covering his face as he waited their arrival from the heavens.
Yole materialized and immediately felt a tingling burn in her lungs as the moderate ship air was replaced by hot dry desert air. "Just once can an away mission to be a nice humid temperate place, is that too much to ask for?" She said sarcastically.
"If we did beam down to a humid planet," Arnon said. "You'd probably complain about the risk of malaria. Look, over there. I think that's one of our scientists."
Yole rolled her eyes and followed the away team towards the scientist.
DeLucia swept the area with a tricorder. "Suffering can build character, or at least that's what my mudda said." He said as they approached the scientist. He was going to let Kane take the lead on talking to the scientist.
"My character is just fine the way it is." Yole quipped back and fell silent as they arrived at the scientist.
"Greetings! Welcome to Nerey'n," the cloaked and hooded figure spoke in a deep voice as he approached the away team, his thick beard covered in flecks of sand whilst a pair of goggles served as eye protection.
Audrid turned to the man that approached, he certainly was dressed for the location. How any civilians could work here was beyond her. "Doctor" Audrid replied. "I am Commander Kane, these are Lieutenant Commander Barak, and the Lieutenants Yole and DeLucia" She added.
"Apologies Commander. I am not the Doctor. I am but one of his assistants. He's waiting for you inside," the man revealed as he gestured towards the cave entrance. "Please?" he asked, hoping the team would follow him as he headed inside.
Yole brought up the rear as the group made the way into the caves, the wind and blowing sand subsided but the heat remained stifling.
Leading at a fairly quick pace, the scientist guided the visitors from Starfleet through the initial winding tunnels of the cave network, making small talk along the way as he led them towards their meeting with the Chief Scientist. "I think you'll be excited to see what we have uncovered here," he smiled, looking back briefly at the team before leading them towards the lit entrance way of what appeared to be a substantial cavern.
Audrid somewhat doubted they would, the scientific side of Starfleet had never caught her attention and she was fairly certain that was not going to change here.
Lowering his head slightly to exit the tunnel and enter the cave, the scientist led the team onto an upper ledge that looked down about six levels. In the centre of the cavern, and easily spreading up for about four levels, a massive piece of technology, clearly powered down.
"Ah! Commander Kane! Please, please!" a voice called from below, beckoning the away team down to the lower level. A steep, winding ramp had clearly been excavated to assist with reaching the lower level and was the only way to reach the scientists below.
Yole pulled out her tricorder and immediately began scanning the large device, it didn't externally recognize anything she'd encountered before.
Audrid headed in the direction of the voice, descending from the ramp she looked for the person behind it.
DeLucia followed everyone else down the ramp. "Ah, finally wes getting to be meeting 'da big boss if you know what I mean." He said to the rest of the team.
"Welcome! You arrived at the most opportune moment possible," the enthusiastic Krel Adar grinned as he offered a hand towards Commander Kane. "We need some help in unearthing the lower sections of our newest discovery," he declared.
Yole continued scanning but the tricorder was giving her very little to work with. She closed the device and slipped it back into its place on her belt. "Well I guess we should start digging." She said moving down to the lower level next to Commander Kane.
"Before we do that, what exactly are we looking at doctor?" Audrid asked, hesitant to just start digging at a random object of possible dangerous origins.
"We believe it to be some sort of long range sensor platform or communications device judging by our initial scans of the internal mechanisms. If so, we could be looking at something on the scale of the array that the Dominion hid in the Argolis cluster," Krel told enthusiastically as he looked the massive device up and down. "If we're right, it could shift the whole balance of power in the Quadrant!"
"Do you know who put it here." Yole said moving and standing next to Kane.
Adar shook his head slowly. "Not right now. None of the markings translate to anything in our database," he told.
"Thoughts Commander?" Yole asked the XO, it appeared to so far that it did not pose a threat, but for all they knew it could transmit a signal to it's owners and they could have trouble on their doorstep.
"Proceed carefully" Audrid replied after considering the options, furthermore some precautions would need to be taken. "=/\=Kane to Nogura, monitor my location for any unknown signal of any type. Keep a back-up security team on standby," She said after tapping her combadge. They weren't going to take a risk with something that old yet so advanced.
With the okay to proceed form the XO, Yole moved and began working with one of the local scientist to clear more of the sand and dirt from the device. It was slow going and heat meant that the Lieutenant had quickly sweat through her uniform and her long dark hair clung to the sides of her face.
Audrid observed the work from a distance, whatever the thing was it was most definitely impressive. Part of her couldn't help but wonder though if they weren't chewing off more than they could bite digging too deep. Whoever had constructed this must have been advanced, and the fact this was the first sign of their existence Starfleet had found so far made her worried about whatever could be out there beyond uncharted space.
"=/\=Nogura to Kane," the voice of the ships Captain filled the cavern, "We are dispatching two Runabouts to the surface containing additional security and science personnel. A situation has arisen which requires our attention," the Captain revealed.
"Well," Arnon said. "That's not good!"
Arnon took off his jacket, stripping down to his t-shirt, and put his tactical vest back on. He quickly transferred everything from his jacket to the pockets of his pants and vest. He put some sunblock on and handed the tube to Kane.
"Put this on, please, Commander," he said. "Then offer it to the others. It's very long lasting and the runabouts will have more."
From one of the larger pockets of his discarded jacket, Arnon pulled out a crushable, brimmed hat, unfolded it, and put it on his head. He also pulled out some sunglasses and put those on.
"We've been able to ascertain that the device is still partially buried, perhaps another fifteen feet or so. It's down there that we need access to in order to know exactly what we are looking at," Doctor Adar told, looking over the massive device. "We need to fully excavate it," he concluded, turning to the lead Starfleet officer with pleading eyes.
The away team all stood around staring at the device, no doubt all thinking the same; this was going to take some digging...