Impressed with their findings, Karyn couldn’t take her eyes off the sensor readings. “Are we certain?” She asked, turning to look at Lieutenant Abbej.
The Boslic science officer nodded. “It’s confirmed, the existence of benamite crystals.”
The two women were currently standing in the primary astrometric lab reviewing the scans taken by the many Starfleet probes that currently orbited the planet they had named Outré, for its unusual and almost shocking properties. Within twenty four hours they had found pockets of deuterium, signs of gallicite, uridium and kellinite ore and large quantities of edible vegetation. This discovery now went straight to the top of the list.
Excited at the prospect of finding a high amount of the rare crystal, Karyn ordered Abbej to turn their attention to the location of the readings. “We need to know everything before we go to the captain with this.”
“Already on it.” Abbej said and within a few seconds the large ceiling to floor monitor in the lab came to life with further scans. “It looks like a majority of the crystals are buried within a cave system, several kilometres under the planet’s surface. Plenty of tunnels for us to move within as well.”
“I think we should run a full geological scan of the planet.” Karyn suggested as a hunch started to form. Looking at the preliminary scans of the underground tunnels made a small knot appear in the El-Aurian’s stomach.
“That would take some time ma’am.” Abbej replied. Her tone carried a sense of concern and wonder as to why her boss wanted to take longer finding out more about the planet without stepping foot on it.
“I know but I think it would be worth it in the end. We can launch more probes to assist. I just have a feeling we need to know more before we start placing people on the ground down there.” Karyn insisted.
“Scan underway, I’ll have the geological team take lead on this.” Abbej suggested. “Is there anything you want them to look out for ma’am?”
“Yeah, see if our theory of it being uninhabited was right.” She said, “In the meantime,I’m heading up to the bridge to see the captain to tell him about this.”
Standing with his first officer, chief operations officer as well as his chief engineer, Captain McCallister was listening to the suggestions he was hearing from the three men. They had met to discuss the upcoming options of sending down teams to Outré. Now that most sensor scans of the planet had been complete there were plenty of places for them to look at in person. The group were all huddled around the primary mission ops station on the bridge with a map of the planet below on the main screen.
“So far our science team has discovered several sites that could be worth visiting first.” Duncan explained, pointing to each of them as he spoke. “Two in the northern continent, three in the south and one on this chain of islands near to the equator.”
“We’re already replicating prefabricated bases for each location and when we decide on more sites then we will use these ones as primary bases. Others will take tents, unless they are quite far away from the prefabs.” Hunsen added.
The joined Trill operations officer then spoke. “We’re also getting out of storage all of the equipment we will need to take down for the teams and T’Rani is preparing all of the shuttles when the transporters are in use. We are also getting the mining equipment ready, with this amount of deuterium,gallicite, uridium and kellinite, we’d be foolish not to extract some. Doctor Slyvexs is also keen to determine if the vegetation is worth looking at to replenish our stores. She’s quite keen to farm.” Jen paused and then looked at the captain. “There has been one request sir that we wanted to run past you first.”
“Oh, what’s that Lukiz?” McCallister wondered what it would be, especially seeing as they had already covered most areas.
“Ground vehicles sir.” Jen answered. “Some of the science team have requested that we deploy the four we already have and build another three. That way each primary site has the ability to cover further terrain.”
Smirking at the request, McCallister agreed to it with a nod. “What about a place for R and R?” He asked.
Remembering the deal they struck just over twenty-four hours ago, Duncan grinned at the captain as he tapped on the map on the screen and enlarged the chain of islands he mentioned earlier. “We’re recommending these islands sir for the crew.”
“Let’s just call it our own mini-Risa in the Delta Quadrant!” Jen supplemented with.
Chuckling at the name, McCallister thanked them all for their time and was about to dismiss them when the turbolift doors opened to reveal his wife.
“Ah, James, I’m glad I caught you.” Reyas said with a cheerful mood and then saw who else he was with. “Sorry captain, what I was meant to say was I needed to share something with you and I’m glad you’re all here. We’ve found something else that may interest you.”
“What do you have, commander?” McCallister asked her.
Squeezing into the group, she leant over and tapped away on the mission ops console to bring up the scan she had just seen from the astrometrics lab. “One of the probes we launched yesterday went in for a closer look and found readings of benamite crystals deep underground.”
“Benemite?” Hunsen repeated. “That’s pretty rare to find.”
“Exactly, this planet is rich in a range of resources, captain.” Reyas said as she showed what the sensors had shown to confirm the existence of the rare crystal. “Large quantities of it are located within a set of caves and underground tunnels. I think it’s worth a look and if we can safely do it, to mine it.”
Crossing his arms as he heard the revelation, McCallister looked to his first officer. “Number One, your thoughts?”
“I agree with Commander Reyas, benemite is rare and if we can collect it then it’d be worth it. It’d be just another resource we’d be collecting from this planet.” Duncan answered.
“We’d need to setup another base as it’s quite far away from all of the others.” Hunsen remarked.
“And we’d need a lot of climbing gear, transporter enhancers, etc. to take with us.” Jen said as he considered the additional away mission.
Duncan turned to Hunsen and Jen and asked them if they could use their latest addition. “Would it be easier if we sent down the Telemachus?”
“I can’t see why not.” Jen answered.
Nodding in agreement, Hunsen liked the idea. “Would save us time and her transporters are better than most of the other shuttles and runabouts we have.”
McCallister looked at the four, who were all looking at hime to give the go ahead in using their new Aquarius-class support ship. It had arrived only forty-eight hours ago after Starbase 38 had sent it through the Barzan Wormhole shortly after Commodore Bennet had sent in the request. As they were close to one of the wormhole’s cycles it had been brought to them by the USS Tereshkova who had used a number of subspace corridors to reach them before returning back to the rest of the lead expeditionary group. “We’ve got to break it in somehow, so yeah go for it.” McCallister said, authorising the request.
“I’d like to lead that mission,” Reyas said almost straight after her husband had given it his blessing. “The caverns and underground tunnels interest me.”
“I’d be keen to join you as well, commander.” Hunsen replied. He was looking intensely at the scans they had of the underground layers. “Is it me or do those tunnels look almost-”
“Artificially made to look natural?” Reyas finished for the Betazoid engineer. She didn’t need to be a mind-reader to sense his curiosity that he now shared with her. “It’s exactly what peaked my interest Tremt.”
Looking between the two officers, Duncan asked for clarity. “What are you guys getting at?”
“Well, I’m no geologist but natural tunnels and caves when they are formed do not generally have sufficient space between them for most humanoids to climb through, these ones on the whole appear to be sufficiently wide enough in most places.” Hunsen pointed out. “That’s either bizarrely lucky for us that these underground tunnels have formed like that or someone has beaten us to it and dug them out themselves.”
“Worth a look then.” McCallsiter encouraged. “Number One, will you start handing out assignments to team leaders and then I want to see plans for our giant study of this plan on my desk by tomorrow afternoon.”
“Yes sir.” Duncan replied. “I reckon we’d be ready to go the day after that. It’d give us enough time to make sure all the equipment is ready, including our temporary accommodations.”
“We’ve already started a full geological scan of the planet.” Reyas added. “I should have the results for you by tomorrow afternoon as well, captain.”
“Good.” McCallister said and then motioned to the others that their conversation was complete. His wife remained there with their chief engineer reviewing the sensor logs. He wondered if their hypothesis of the caves being dug out artificially were correct. Either way, he was keen for his crew to find out more. A good mystery was exactly what they needed.