Anyone remember when we used to be explorers?
Posted on Sat Sep 7th, 2019 @ 3:58pm by Captain Colby Drayton & Lieutenant Akaria Okan & Lieutenant Commander Aria Winters & Lieutenant Commander Zar & Lieutenant Alexander Mitchell & Lieutenant Hask Rassak & Lieutenant JG Eza Bergen PhD
Episode 8: A Greater Power
Timeline: Day 184 at 0500
Sitting in silence at the heart of the command centre, Captain Drayton was slouched with his chin resting on his right fist as he stared at the viewscreen. The Nogura was still on the move, but slowly until they had cleared the coming area of space of any anomalies. Sitting, regretting being up so early, Colby remembered why he had hated being on the night shift. But, at least the detection of the peculiar anomaly had broken the monotony of the shift, and at least he hadn't been on the shift all night.
Monitoring the data coming in to the science station, Commander Winters waited for the rest of the senior staff to arrive. She wondered how many of them, like her, had already been awake when summoned to the Bridge. One glance towards the command chair and she couldn't help but grin, realising Captain Drayton was not a morning person. Or more specifically, a middle of the night person.
Glancing over her shoulder at the sound of the turbolift doors opened, she turned to see who would manage to make it to the Bridge first.
Bleary eyed, with his bed head barely brought under control and his duty uniform jacket open to reveal the command red shirt underneath, Lieutenant Mitchell emerged from the starboard aft turbolift. It had been one of the few good nights sleep that he'd been having recently until it was interrupted by the summons to the Bridge. Quietly he relieved Ensign Gates, who would take up a place at one of the Bridge's auxiliary consoles and act as Xander's relief, and logged onto his console. Within seconds it had automatically reconfigured itself based on his preferences imported from his personal database. He rubbed his eyes before studying the data in front of him to get up to speed.
Ensign Bahr had been manning the operations station during the Delta shift operations, since the minor shift in adjustment he figured he would have been made the temporary acting Operations Asst with Commander Zar temporarily side lined; however that was not expected to happen. Lieutenant Laki had asked for Commander Zar's opinion on department organization and the Commander had recommend Chief Warrant Officer Marrsat to take over as the Second in command of the department. The young ensign did feel slighted, however he under stood that Chief Marrsat's 22 years in the field gave her the experience that was needed. As Bahr was inputting in a request for a level 3 diagnostic he received a message that Lieutenant Laki would be coming to re leave him in a few minutes. As he put in an urgent request for the diagnostic to be performed, he left a note of the remaining things that needed to be covered. Within a couple of minutes, Laki entered the bridge via the turbolift and made a quick tapp on the ensign's shoulder. I no time Luca rotated in his chair and the swift exchange was made, he also noted Chief Marrsat at the aft ops console station; and with a nod of his head, he entered the turbolift to get some much needed sleep.
As Bhar departed, Hask arrived from the opposite turbolift. His uniform was buttoned up, and apart from the fuzzy blue slippers in livery to the Thunderlizards (GO Thunderlizards!! said the logo), he only carried his padd. Or as some of the engineering officers had begun to call it 'Hask's Lists Of Menial Machinations'. Where the diminutive reptoid went, the padd went with him. And for every job ticked off of it, another three or four were added to it. Balance screws out of alignment. Sensor feed power connectors off by a milliamp.
To be fair he had also found a few worrying thin spots, but nothing life-threatening. Not according to the engineers manning those stations. To Hask though...
"Good morning!" He said....cheerily. He had a bounce in his step as he walked to the main system display on the back of the bridge. He positively glowed when he docked his padd to the charging station there. Did the trifecta of Ensigns from three different departments chanting in prayer around a Starfleet Procedural Manuel finally petition a god to reset Hask's personality?
Eza had been down in the exobiology lab pulling an all nighter when the call came, he had already pawned off his duty shift to allow him to get some sleep but it looked like that wouldn't be happening. With a mug of coffee almost the size of the Trill's head and some well developed dark circles under his eyes, he took the Science station and reviewed the latest sensor feeds.
With everyone seemingly present, the Captain sat up in his chair and looked like he at least wanted to be there for a while. "Okay Commander," the Captain called out in the direction of the ship's XO, "Why don't you bring everyone up to speed?"
“I’m sure you will all be delighted to know we have detected a structure of presently unknown origin on the edge of sensor range. The configuration is not a match to our records. However, and here is the part you will love, it is disappearing and reappearing intermittently,” Aria informed the assembled officers.
"A Level 1 diagnostics of the Nogura's sensor suites should be performed, to ensure that an improperly calibrated graviton waveguide isn't giving back false readings," Hask said from the back of the bridge/ His fingers made little clicking sounds on the LCAR's display.
Through the fog that still blanketed his mind, Alexander was able to reach back to his Academy history class and offer a possible theory. One that Eza would no doubt shoot down in short order. "Could it be an interphasic rift? Like the one the U.S.S. Defiant was lost in over a century ago?"
Eza was already pouring over the sensor data they had to work with. "Unlikely," Eza chimed in, "Interphasic rifts are actually a phenomena Starfleet has encountered before, our sensors would determine that." He added referring to Aria's comment about the unknown origin. "It also doesn't have the subspace flux associated with a rift like that." He said smiling to Xander.
"A level one diagnostic would take too much time to determine if the sensors are getting false readings Lieutenant Rassak," replied Laki as he moved his fingers across the console, sparing up additional power for the sensors should science need them. "We can run a level five diagnostic which would be fine," he said as he pulled up the ship's computer and started running a level five diagnostic on the ship sensors. "It very well could be shifting subspace distortion, that is causing it to do just that; perhaps a faulty cloaking system or even an imbalanced warp core could do that as well."
"So," Drayton sighed, "what I am getting from you all is that we aren't sure what it is and without better sensors, we'll never know. The way we get better sensor data is by getting closer, right?"
Hask waited a moment, before turning around from the work station he was click clacking away on.
"I mean you are not wrong but you are still....incorrect. Getting closer would indeed produce fewer sensor errors, but I would advise against bringing us closer to the source," Hask said. With a final click, he nodded his wedge-shaped head at the main view screen. There a single bright star in the sky was bracketed by a targeting reticle. "That is the source of the signal. It is also in our stellar cartography database as a blue hypergiant. A very bright, very unstable star. A very high energy stellar environment. Very....dangerous. And if there is a subspace event close to it, even more so! We might be witnesses to a hyper nova!"
"How the hell did you work that out?" the Captain queried, more than a hint of frustration in his voice at the thought that the obnoxious iquana had potentially solved their dilemma.
"I...did my job, Sir?" Hask said, looking around the bridge quizzically. "Whilst everyone else was suggesting theories, I was accessing the Starfleet Deep Space Survey database. They have a subspace telescope in the area, that provided the other point of triangulation for the signal's origin. Then it was merely a case of cross-referencing the spatial coordinates with the stellar maps we have on file. I would also point out that SFDSS has given that blue hypergiant a Class 5 hazard rating, with a likelyhood of a stellar renewal event happening within the next thousand years."
Hask stood up a little taller, putting him just below collar bone height of many.
"I mean, I'm sure others were about to point out the very same location," he said with a sibilant hiss of pride.
“So we should not investigate because of potential risks?” Winters asked the engineer, biting back a more sarcastic remark. She wondered if he suspected they were idiots to not notice a hyper giant. But she was tired and perhaps taking it out of context. “You aren’t at all curious about what this might be?”
"Curiosity decoupled from caution does not a linage make. I might suggest a flight of high warp probes be sent ahead of us, to refine our understanding of the phenomenon and the environment in which it exists. It might allow us to plan a scientific survey, instead of some sort of exploratory smash and grab around a star almost as large as the entire Sol system," Hask said thoughtfully.
“Smash and grab?” Aria repeated, not sure if she was amused or insulted. “I’m sure our science department would be a little more subtle than that.”
"And given the highly...energetic nature of the star in question, I would not think overstaying our welcome would be wise. Thermal effects, radiation damage, not to mention the stellar wash from the star itself, it is not an environment even a Sovereign-class starship could withstand for long," Hask pointed out. "A minute of understanding is better than an hour of oblivion."
"This crew has been crying out for a chance to get back to our mandate. I'm not going to take away their first chance to experience something new and give it to some long distance probes," the Captain decided and then turned to the tactical officer and then to Bergen, "Akaria, Laki; work with Lieutenant Rassak on some adjustments to the shields. I'd like to get in there and hang around as long as we can before we have to get out. Lieutenant Mitchell will plot the safest route for us to get our results, he ordered with a smile before looking at the XO. "Commander, work with Eza and the Doctor. Let's determine if there's any risk to the crew and, if needs be, lets get some inoculations on the go. Let your people know that we've got some good old fashioned exploring to do!"
Hask held his tongue. Reminding everyone that 'good old fashion' exploring usually entailed the search ship sent out to find the first unlucky sod to go over to that blank edge of the map. He would instead focus on the shields. Yes. Yes he could do that rather well. It would help distract from the impending sense of doom brewing in his lower stomach.
Laki let out a groan as the captain mentioned for him to work with the new chief engineer, a slight thud could be heard as he tapped his forehead on the console. The headache he would receive from tapping his head on the console would be easier than the headache in dealing with the Starfleet lizard. "Aye sir," came a muffled response as Laki voice was muffled from the console his lips were pressed against.
Xander didn't look up from his work, trying to plot the safest course that would allow them to get better sensor data. But he couldn't help the smile, some would call it a smug grin, from forming on his lips. "Sucks to be you." He muttered, just loud enough so that only the Acting Chief Ops Officer could hear him.
Eza nodded to the XO and began pulling the sensor data that would be relevant to their work.
"Right, get to it!" the Captain ordered sternly as he sat back in his command chair and braced himself for what was sure to be an incredibly long shift. But, if it led them back on a path of scientific discovery, who was he to take that opportunity away from his people?
“I’ll find the good doctor and we’ll get started,” Aria told Eza. The idea of being able to return to her roots was far better than any shot of caffeine. “Meet you in the labs in twenty?”
"Yes ma'am." Eza said to the XO as he headed to the turbolift.
"Tell me about it," muttered Laki backed to Xander. When he heard the captain's orders a quick single reply of "aye captain," slipped from his mouth as he continued to look forward.
Watching as his people set about their work, even at such an ungodly hour, the Captain let out a grin that would make even a Cheshire cat jealous. It was at times like this that he was really proud to be the Captain of such a fine group of people.