A cloud of dust was kicked up around the shuttle, obscuring it from Ori’s view. Her curiosity had the better of her, she had to find out what was so important about the shuttle that it could disregard procedure.
She hurried over towards the landing site, the dust cloud dissipating as she arrived. Using one of the ground-penetrating radars as cover, Ori watched as the hatch to the shuttle slid open and two people in EVA suits emerged, carrying a large black container between them.
Ori felt a pain in her hand and realised her fingers were digging into her palm as she watched the two suited figures move towards Captain Riano and carefully placed the container down in front of her superior. The trio exchanged a few words before the two newcomers took hold of the container once again and the Captain led them towards the entrance to the dig site.
With the two security officers guarding the only entrance Ori knew that she would have to figure out another way to find out just what was happening and what had caused Captain Riano to act so out of character. Then there was the question of what had been taken into the compound.
An idea began to form. It was unorthodox, and not something that Ori would typically do. Plus, if she got caught it would more than likely mean disciplinary action. Double-checking the route was clear, Ori made her way back to the prefab that had acted as her home for the past few days.
Once inside she began rifling through her belongings.
“Come on, I know I saw you here earlier.”
After a couple of seconds, Ori let out a faint yes and held up tricorder, turning it around in her hand as she examined it.
“This should do it”
She turned about, grabbing an empty packing box, carefully placed the tricorder inside and strode out of the prefab, a woman on a mission.
Ori made the trip back to the operations area in record time. She had worried about somebody questioning her, but it seemed her colleagues were too busy with their own worries.
The door to the Operations Centre slid aside with the familiar swish as Ori approached. There was still a frantic level of activity and nobody paid her attention as she made her way over to where she had left the tricorder from the complex. Thankfully it was still there.
Ori cast a glance around her, double-checking that nobody was paying attention to her. She gently placed the packing box onto the counter, trying to avoid drawing any attention. Her heart was racing and she rubbed some of the excess sweat off her hands onto her jacket before placing the tricorder she had brought with her next to the existing one.
She took another look around her and confident nobody was looking, tapped a few commands into each of the tricorders. She watched the displays, her stomach twisting and turning around in knots as she waited for the data transfer to complete.
After what felt like a lifetime the displays confirmed the transfer was complete and Ori let out a faint sigh of relief. Quickly she placed the second tricorder back inside the box and headed over to the area that had acted as her desk for the past few days.
She offered a few brief greetings to her colleagues as she packed up her remaining belongings, trying to appear calmer than she felt. As soon as she finished packing up she slipped away from the area, heading back to her quarters. A few minutes later and she was safely locked inside her quarters. She threw herself into bed, staring at the ceiling above her. What was going on?
Her mind was racing as she lay there. What did Captain Riano want with such a large black container and what was inside it? What had she discovered inside the complex that had warranted such a reaction? All these questions and more raced around in Ori’s head.
Ori sighed, closing her eyes, wishing this was all a dream or nightmare and she’d wake up from her sleep soon. Ori sat up, running her hands through her hair, pulling at it slightly. She needed answers. She needed to know what she had found in the complex. She needed to know why Captain Riano was acting so strangely.
She finished packing up the rest of her personal effects, concealing the tricorder amongst her off duty clothes. It would be too risky to review the data here, she would have to wait until she was back at the Research Centre.
The shuttle trip was thankfully quiet, with the other passengers occupying themselves. As the Research Centre came into view it was a bittersweet moment for Ori. She had been one of the first people to enter the most comprehensive and intact set of ruins on M-113 and she wasn’t sure if such an opportunity would present itself again. On the other hand, now that she was home she was hoping to find answers to what she had found.
Ori wasted no time in departing the shuttle and she headed straight for her quarters. She had contemplated going straight to one of the labs but figured it would look odd carrying around her belongings, so decided to drop them off first. Once she had stowed everything away Ori made her way to the nearest lab with the tricorder in hand.
She entered the passcode for the lab and entered the room, closing the lab door behind her and locking it. The lab was silent, and she found the silence to be oddly comforting. She made her way to the computer terminal in the corner and booted it up. She then proceeded to input her passcode to access the main Federation database.
Once the access had been confirmed, Ori placed the tricorder beside the terminal, inputted the necessary commands and a moment later the data link was complete. She took a breath and glanced behind her, fearing that the data would trigger some kind of alarm. Thankfully that didn’t appear to be the case.
She tapped at the display, bringing up the readings from the container and skimmed over them. The tricorder had only identified boronite in the composition. The only other point she noticed was that whatever was inside the container was resonating at a frequency of 1.68 terahertz, although she wasn’t sure what that meant.
“Computer, list all uses of boronite.”
It took the computer a couple of seconds to process the request. “Boronite is a rare mineral with no known practical applications.”
Ori’s eyes narrowed at the answer. “No known practical applications?” she muttered to herself. That wasn’t true. She was staring at the readings that confirmed whatever was inside the container utilised boronite.
With a few taps on the tricorders display, Ori brought up one of the symbols she had seen on the container, a green flame-like symbol surrounded by a circle formed by what looked like waterdrops.
“Computer, cross reference this symbol with any similar known symbols in the database.”
The computer chirped, acknowledging the command. Ori sat there, staring at the display whilst the computer searched. A moment later the terminal emitted another chirp, confirming the search was complete.
Ori leaned forward and began reading over the results, which didn’t take long as there were only a couple of entries.
According to the available data, the symbol was that of the Tkon Empire, although it appeared that not much was known about them and certainly no associations to M-113. Why would the contents of a container from a long-extinct civilisation have caused such concern to Captain Riano?
A name stuck out to Ori. Dr. Tejdeep Jawanda, whose name was listed amongst many of the references. Evidently, he would be the person to speak to about the Tkon and just what the box might contain.
Ori pulled up the Doctor’s entry on the Federation Archaeology Council and skimmed over it. According to the most recent entries Dr Jawanda was currently on an expedition in a nearby system. With a few taps on the console, Ori requested personal leave, grabbed a few belongings and set out towards the shuttle bay.
Her personal leave had been granted during the shuttle trip. With the sudden closure of the dig site, nobody had questioned Ori’s need for leave. In fact, she had bumped into one of the techs from the dig site who had the same idea.
As the shuttle came into land, Ori was already up and waiting at the hatch. The moment the shuttle touched down and the hatch opened, Ori was down the ramp and halfway across the pad before the other occupants appeared out of the shuttle.
Ori continued through the facility, following the map on her PADD to Dr Tejdeep Jawanda’s office. It had only been a short walk and in less than ten minutes after stepping off the shuttle Ori found herself outside the doctor’s office, his name listed in white on a crimson plaque beside the door. She took a deep breath and reached for the chime.
“Enter” called a deep voice from the other side.
The doors slid open and Ori entered the office. It would have been a spacious office, but pretty much every available space was occupied, either by PADDs, books or artefacts and mementoes. A set of eyes peered over a stack of PADDs at her.
“May I help you?” said the Trill.
“Sorry to interrupt you, Doctor. I’m Lieutenant Junior Grade Orila Karai, an archaeologist based at the research centre on M-113. I understand that you’re somewhat of an authority on the Tkon?”
The Trill pushed aside the PADDs and leaned back in his seat and stared at Ori for a few moments. Finally, he sat forward, resting his elbows on the mahogany desk and clasping his fingers together.
“I suppose you could say that” he chuckled. “I’ve spent a great many years following their trails. Why do you ask?”
Ori raised the PADD, entered a few commands and placed the PADD facing the Doctor on his desk. On the screen was the green symbol Ori had seen in the ancient complex.
“This symbol was in a site I was exploring on M-113.” Ori reached forward and slid her finger across the PADD, the image on the display changing to a collection of symbols. “This writing was inside a chamber that I found, but I have no idea what any of it means.”
There was a subtle change in Tejdeep’s expression, as he made a sucking sound. He looked from the PADD to Ori.
“That is most certainly a Tkon site. No doubt about it.” He took hold of the PADD and began reading over the details. A few minutes after he placed the PADD back on the table.
“Lieutenant, if your PADD is to be believed, you may have found one of the most complete Tkon structures to date. Nothing I have seen is as extensive as what you have here.”
Tejdeep turned the PADD back around to Ori. On the screen was the glowing container whose discovery had prompted the site to be shut down. Ori felt a lump form in her throat at the image.
“Do you know what this is?” Tejdeep asked.
“Unfortunately not doctor. As soon as I sent the readings back to the Ops Centre, I was ordered out of the complex and the site was shut down.” Ori said, a tinge of sadness in her voice as she recalled Captain Riano’s voice.
“Curious.” Tejdeep rose from his seat and made his way to the side of the room to a pile of books. His fingers were a blur as he flicked through them. Several seconds later and he placed the book on the table, a drawing of the same container on the left page, the right page filled with the same symbols from the room.