Free Help & Unusual Colony Ships

Posted on Tue May 2, 2023 @ 1:19am by Lieutenant John Kearny & Captain Larisna Koralova & Lieutenant Commander Tristor Kaz MD & Lieutenant Rei Yamashi & Lieutenant Commander Kaedon Draesni & Lieutenant Daniel Sheridan

Mission: Mission 3 - Homesteading
Location: Bridge, USS Hornet, Telok System
Timeline: 2 Hours Later

The Hornet arrived right on time to the Telok System. The only planet that was habitable was a Class L planet - and habitable was being charitable. The three moons with Telok IV were packed full of various previous metals and minerals, as was the planet itself. The rest of the system had some gas giants and other terrestrial planets but without considerable work, they wouldn't be anywhere close to amenable to biological life.

For the moment, Larisna stepped off the bridge to present the situation to Starfleet Command, as well as participate in a command update meeting. This left Draesni in command as the ship arrived in the system. Sure as could be seen, there was a large asteroid hurtling through the system that the computer quickly determined would strike Telok IV in less than a couple of days.

"Commander. There's a hail coming in from the Telok Outpost." Lieutenant John Kearny, formerly of the Earth starship NX-05 Atlantis, reported from Tactical. In spite of being a couple centuries out of the loop, he seemed to be eager to learn and had adapted fairly well to his new surroundings. The fact he was one of only less than a handful from that ill-fated ship to avoid court martial by not participating in the tragic events that unfolded only seemed to motivate him further to prove he was willing to show that was not a truth of Humans of the 22nd Century.

Draesni looked up from where he had been studying something on the right arm display of the command chair. “Well, that certainly didn’t take very long, did it,” he said somewhat bemusedly, “Put them onscreen.”

A middle aged Ferengi who looked like he'd just been in the middle of an argument and not the one who sent the message appeared to be smoothing out his clothes and composing himself.

"Ah...greetings and welcome to Telok Outpost, Federation starship. Please...oh to hell with it." The Ferengi shook his head, "Look, I don't know what you hew-mons are up to and I don't care. That asteroid needs to go away, so do whatever it is you need to do and go back to charting space dust or whatever unprofitable thing you people do. Good bye."

But the channel didn't end.

"...look at what you did, you idiot!" The older Ferengi shouted to someone off screen.

"B-but you said get cheap help. Ideally free help." The Ferengi from the distress signal said off-screen.

"Not that kind of free help!" The older one barked back.

"Uh...Daimon..." A third Ferengi said.

"Shut up!" The first one barked, "They're not free help - their kind of help always comes with more strings attached than..."

"Daimon...the channel is still open." The third Ferengi said.

"WHAT?! WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME?!" The channel then abruptly cut.

"...I didn't realize we were free help, sir." Kearny commented with a barely stifled chuckle.

"Indeed," Draesni replied. Though he shared the lieutenant's amusement at the rather stereotypical Ferengi behavior they'd just experienced, it did make him wonder. Something about the daimon's tone and demeanor Draesni couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he felt as if there was more to the abrupt transmission than just an unwillingness to have to pay for services.

Feeling the ship slow always piqued Tristor's curiosity, and so he made his way to the bridge to watch things unfold from an auxiliary station.

Unfortunately, a vague feeling wasn't really enough to be going off of. They needed to figure out the facts and then see where that led them. "Full sweep of the asteroid," he said, settling back into his chair, "Let's see what we're dealing with..."

From his position at the operations console, Sheridan immediately set about shifting resources to the task. He adjusted a few of the main power flows and initiated a series of routine sensor sweeps, all of which were focused on the asteroid looming ahead of them. "Scan results coming through now, sir," he called over his shoulder, "The asteroid appears to be made up of standard nickle-iron composite, roughly one-hundred-eighty-two meters across."

"Confirm all, sir." Kearny replied, "I'm getting some possible trace elements in there, as well. Possible ambient radiation too, but nothing that's being flagged as too out of the ordinary. I can start projections of dispersion if we're looking to use torpedoes. Looks like as long as we don't use these Tri-Cobalt ones, we shouldn't see anything reacting harmfully to photon or quantum torpedoes."

Draesni nodded slowly, taking in all that the two officers had reported to him. He was just about to give Kearny the go ahead to begin his calculations when, suddenly, an alert on one of the bridge consoles started to chirp. A second later, Sheridan spoke up. “Excuse me, commander,” he said, “but I’m getting a strange reading from the asteroid.”

“What sort of reading,” Draesni asked.

Sheridan’s hands moved across the surface of his workstation. What he saw didn’t make any sense. “According to these readings,” he said, “the asteroid is…slowing down.”

The young man’s words hung in the air as a silence descended upon the room. One by one, everyone looked up from their stations. They turned, either toward Sheridan or the viewscreen, confusion and disbelief readily apparent on their faces. And Draesni was certainly among them.

“What do you mean ‘slowing down’?”

Rei piped in from the Engineering station, down in the actual pit. She didn't have the luxury of being on the bridge, but she had the luxury of a representative and a live feed. "I'm sorry, maybe the translator is on the scoff. Did you say the asteroid is slowing down? Too soon for gravity, WAY too soon for drag." she mused, "Indulge me, do a scan for standard seventh power radiation. Theta radiation, antimatter reactions." she rattled off a few examples, examples of the kind of power generation the Federation used back during the NX series. The Warp 5 Engine times.

Antimatter reactions? The very idea of it made almost no sense, but then again, so did an asteroid slowing down without any visible factor or reason for doing so. It was enough to give Sheridan pause. In fact, he actually turned and looked back over his shoulder at the Hornet‘s first officer to see what he wanted him to do. With a simple nod of his head, the man indicated that Sheridan should proceed, and so he set to work.

“Adjust scan parameters,” he said, making the recommended changes, “Scanning…”

Once again, the Hornet‘s powerful sensors were brought to bear. They swept over the asteroid, taking in all sorts of additional information, and relaying it back. And again, Sheridan was surprised by what he saw on the readouts.

“I don’t know how, sir,” he said slowly, “but Lieutenant Yamashi is correct. I’m reading theta radiation and signs of an antimatter reaction.”

Another pause. As far as any of them knew, antimatter reactions did not simply occur on their own in nature. That meant the asteroid (or, at least some part of it) was artificial. And that changed things.

“Yellow alert,” Draesni said, “Captain Koralova to the bridge.”

Within the span of ten seconds, Larisna stepped out of the ready room, "What's going on, Commander?"

The moment Koralova emerged from her ready room, Draesni rose to his feet to greet her. “Strange readings from the asteroid, captain,” he replied, yielding the center chair as she approached, “Despite being beyond the reach of atmospheric drag, the asteroid appears to be slowing down. More detailed scans have detected signs of an antimatter reaction.”

"That's not possible unless there's a ship inside or nearby." Larisna commented as she sat down in the center chair, taking a moment to look over the data from the display on the arm.

“Actually…” Draesni said, “it was Lieutenant Yamashi who suggested the adjustment. In fact, she was rather specific as to what we should be looking for.”

"How's that thing emitting the same emissions as an NX?" Kearny asked. Larisna glanced over at the Tactical station before stopping herself - Kearny's last posting was indeed an NX.

"I don't get it either. Lieutenant Kearny, run a tachyon sweep and check for possible graviton emissions outside of the asteroid." Larisna said, "Lieutenant Yamashi - your readings are confirmed. Is there something we missed?"

"At this point, maybe we all missed it. Could be a wreck of a shuttle leaking honestly. Hmmmm..." she mused, ears perked. "Planetary assault by meteor is a bit far fetched. And it's slowing down, could it be a cloaked ship? Using the meteor's entry to hide their own atmo nsertion?" Unseen, she shook her head, "I think that's a bit out of left guard as well. You know what, let's take a shot... is it hollow?"

"Maybe a weapon, or a delivery system or a... a delivery system... nah, there's no way." She paused, "Is it hollow?" She asked again, with a bit more emphasis.

A moment of silence as Sheridan consulted his readouts. “Yes,” he said, surprise evident in his voice, “I can’t say exactly what it looks like, but there is definitely open space inside the asteroid.”

"Captain, I'm not picking up anything with the tachyon sweep or the external graviton emissions." Kearny chimed in.

"...a hollow asteroid? Is there something inside? A ship?" Larisna glanced at Draesni, "...wouldn't make sense if this was some sort of infiltration. There are enough Romulan and Klingon cloaking devices on the black market and even then, every spacefaring government's first responses to an asteroid are to redirect or destroy it. Unless I'm missing something."

"Your guess is as good as mine," Draseni replied.

Tristor was happy he'd come up. The possibility of a ship being present created some excitement.

"Just in time, Doctor. Seems we have a mysterious asteroid visitor on our hands." Larisna said.

"Ah, as one does."Tristor said with a nod.

Down in Engineering, Rei was literally pacing, ears back, chin in her hand. "Energy signature, decreased speed, hollow... Delivery... delivery... Deliver? DELIVERY!" she screamed out in realization, voice carrying over the comm channel. "Fifteen koku says that's a COLONY SHIP!" she called out over the open channel. "I'm on my way up there now!" and with that, Rei took off in a full sprint towards the bridge. Impatient tapping of a broad paw as she had to wait for the turbolift.... pffft, TURBO indeed...

Larisna blinked at the revelation from the Chief Engineer, looking around the bridge.

"...a colony ship? Who operates a colony ship like that?" Larisna was now confused, "Tactical, stand down from torpedo launch."

"Aye, Captain." Kearny replied.

At the operations station, Sheridan continued to monitor the scan results coming in. "The asteroid is continuing to slow," he called out, "but I'm not seeing any other change in output. If there is someone over there, they don't seem to be reacting to us at all."

The door to the bridge swished open, and Rei was behind it gathering her composure. It looked like she RAN the entire way from Engineering to the Bridge, minus the time spent in a turbolift. "That's because they can't." she started. "So, my theory is, and I don't know..." catching breath, "I don't know HOW, but all the signs point to that being a Slate colony on the move. They..." she paused, and took a moment to focus on breathing. She really DID run the ship...

"They're silicon based life. Literally stone. Living, thinking, stone. Let's assume I'm right, and that's a colony on the move. There's a handful of them on that rock that can process things as fast as us. Literally. They think in MINUTES... so right now, when we first arrived, we caught the attention of some of them. We've been following them, scanning them, for a few minutes now. We've just come to the attention of ALL of them."

"They don't need air, so their vessels are literally just rocks. Asteroids with engines and motive force. So, to hail them, we have to send out a vibrational pulse. Modulate a phaser to point zero zero one percent power, and set it to about seven hertz for four seconds. They respond to that as a general greeting. A reply will be impossible, just keep a seismic scan on the asteroid and if it wiggles in the seven hertz range, they're responding." she explained. Then looked at the Captain, "If this works, it'll all make sense."

Draesni listened to the explanation Yamashi was giving them. Though he found the whole thing a bit strange, he did not think it entirely outside the realm of possibility. After all, Yamashi and her people had encountered many things no Starfleet crew ever had. This could easily have been one of them.

"Are we sure our phaser beam won't be interpreted as a hostile act?"

"Methods of communicating are part of the Three Dawn Accord. Now, while the Slate aren't actual signatures, they are included essentially in the margins. As it were. Seven Hertz was the agreed upon wavelength for a greeting. Just make certain it's exactly Seven Hertz." she paused, "They don't need air, so there's no air in there. They can't verbally respond, because they don't talk like we do they... they... oh what's the word... they HUM." she clutched at the first word that seemed to work. "They communicate through localized vibrations. They rumble, they hum, they ... they mini earthquake, and what they want to say rumbles through their body and into the ground, and anyone around can hear it, and repeat the vibration. We really can't open the door and yell at them, so this... this was the best we could come up with."

"And after we proposed it, two minutes later, we got the answer from the ambassador of the local crag." she paused, "They said it was, Good."

Larisna took a moment to absorb all of this information and then ran it in her head. Only one thing came back.

"Reconfigure the forward phaser array. Lieutenant Yamashi, please make sure the configuration is correct before we...send it." Larisna said, "This is now a First Contact situation. Commander, Doctor, while we're working on this, please contact Telok Station and inform them of the developments. We will make all possible efforts to diplomatically resolve this. But for the benefit of you both, I'd prefer to keep them on the sidelines until we can get whatever we can approximate for a dialogue with the Slate."

Rei took a position near tactical. After reviewing the output stream, she gave a nod and gave the all clear to fire. "Captain, confirm at seven hertz steady."

The beam lanced out across the void of space and struck the offending asteroid. At such a low setting, the effect was minimal to say the least. It warmed that spot up, certainly, but it did little else. One second of discharge. Two. Three. At the Four Second mark, Rei cut the phaser pulse and then things got tense. Was it all for nothing? Was it all for show? It wasn't for a few more seconds until Rei's gambit paid off. The rock, hurtling through the cosmos, slowed. Rei pulled up a scanner feed, then motioned to a readout for Larisna. "There."

There was a slight wobble to the asteroid that wasn't there before. A shift, a vibration. In the exact range of Seven hertz.

"You've just said Hi."

Larisna blinked and looked between the display and the readout.

"Amazing. I..." She took a breath, "Lieutenant, you're the closest we have to an expert on the Slate. I'm rather excited about this but we have to ensure this goes as smoothly as possible. Is this the only means of communication that they recognize or can we speak with them in some way? Are there customs we need to be observing?" There was certainly a buzz now on the Bridge, the entire crew were now very interested in this. First Contacts weren't nearly as common these days as they once were, this was absolutely an occasion on a Starfleet vessel.

"We can communicate with them, but only in person. Their communication doesn't work like ours does. Give me thirty minutes with the comm array and a replicator and I can have a translator fabricated." Rei offered, "The most important thing you'll need is patience. Slate don't think in seconds, they think in minutes. There's maybe four Slate on that craft that think in moments like we do." she continued as she monitored the seismic sensors.

"I'll need to realign the subspace antenna array to communicate with the Buoy Network. I'll burn a few Buoy rations to get the specs for the seismic translator. For that, I'll need your authorization, Captain."

"I..." She paused, realizing she wasn't sure who had been briefed to talk about it in the open, "...granted. Computer, grant Lieutenant Yamashi access to the subspace array per Protocol Four Five Seven Zero Delta. Authorization Koralova Nine Four November Juliet."

"Access granted." The computer replied.

"Patience is going to be tricky, but I can do it. Not because I want to be impatient, just because I think we're understandably excited. If you also need to report this in your acquisition, you have my permission to do so." Larisna smiled a little, "Distance doesn't mean we can't be neighborly."

"I suppose that's true." Tristor said, folding his arms across his chest.

As much as he would have liked to stay and see how things played out, Draesni knew there were other matters to attend to, namely updating the outpost on their situation. True, he probably could have dealt with it from one of the auxiliary consoles on the bridge. But the possibility of someone on the other end overhearing what was going on was too great. After all, the last thing any of them needed was for one of the Ferengi to decide there was a profit to be made here.

Instead, Draesni quietly excused himself and retired to the observation lounge (where he could have a bit more privacy). He entered the room, made his way to the head of the conference table, and entered a series of commands into the small interface. A moment later, the viewscreen on the wall came to life as the system worked to establish contact with the outpost.

The outpost responded first with the subordinate who had sent the distress call. "Uh...hello?"

"This is Lieutenant Commander Draesni of the Hornet," Draesni said, introducing himself, "There has been a...development...involving the asteroid."

The subordinate was pushed back and the Daimon came into view.

"Yes, it's still there! I know you hew-mons don't work for pay, so get to it! Make it so! Engage!" The Daimon replied.