Part of USS Altai: The Other Side of Us

Adrift

Outpost 1-SZ, Briefing Room
MD-1
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The time for morning briefing has arrived. Jones was waiting at where one would consider to be a lounge of sorts, something that was spruced together by the Starfleet Corps of Engineers. Jones and Beck were really the first ones to be there, since Beck had just finished his little holographic ‘screen’ that was now essentially hiding them. This was basically an opportunity for them to let everyone know about this new feature and how it will be handled in accordance of safety. But this was also a chance to get an understanding of where all the departments are at currently. They were just settling in to their new home on this station, and it was important to make sure everyone was accommodated.

“Lieutenant Jones, Beck,” Streth called out by way of greeting as he entered the briefing room. He sat down at the head of rectangular table, placing a steaming mug of jestral tea down in front of him.

Jones smiled, “Morning, Commander.” He said before taking a sip of his coffee.

“Mr. Beck, I’m looking forward to hearing about these defensive improvements,” Streth recalled the reports submitted to him only the previous day, “I’ve never seen holo-camouflage successfully deployed in the field before. Aligning the emitters and shield generators to create that masking effect is a stroke of genius, what gave you the idea?”

Beck chuckled and shrugged his shoulders. “Came to me in a dream, sir. Really. I remembered reading up on previous attempts and I took their work, modified some calculations, Dotty pretty much did most of the work to be honest with that super computer brain of theirs. Then we ran some simulations, everything pretty much checked out. Although right now it is still very much in practice, we have yet to see if it will truly work. Don’t suppose you would mind if I borrowed the Altai and launch a couple photon torpedoes into the barrier?” He joked.

“Hah,” Streth snorted, “I have to say, Beck, I’m confident enough in your work without it needing to undergo the two torpedo test. As fun as that might be.”

Astrid entered the briefing room looking completely exhausted.  She cradled a cup of coffee as she made her way to the far side of the room not wanting to engage in idle conversation.  She wasn’t a morning person,  and it took a while for her to get into the groove of the day.

Similarly, the other member of the Hazard Team had ducked his enormous alien head beneath the entrance and wandered slowly and peacefully over towards his leader, his heavy footfalls causing a bobbing smoke trail behind him from the cigar in mouth, an increasingly common sight when Magara was around – he had seemed sluggish and drowsy – though his sagged dromedarian face always appeared at least a little tired, with droopy eyebrows and floppy flanges. The Akh had adorned his head in a simple, ragged blue dumalla – with tassles hanging off the sides “The Black-Sun does not dawn easily” he noted, bringing up a small, joking smile – having become accustomed to the coffee-culture so prevalent amongst humanoids.

Dr. Randall sighed as he pulled on his uniform jacket and checked his chronometer. He was still in his quarters,  and dreading this briefing.  He hated them.  He always figured he could get the same value out of a memo without the massive time drain that came with these things.  Especially since there’s always that one officer who wouldn’t shut the hell up with questions and comments. Which, of course prolonged the torment.

He turned to the sleeping area of his quarters to see Dr. Michelle Ortiz sitting on the edge of the bed brushing her dark brown hair.  “Why don’t you come along?”

“To the briefing?” She asked incredulously.

“Yeah, why not?”

“Because I’m not the Chief Science officer that’s why.”

“Right now you are the only science officer on the station,” he said logically.  “Someone ought to sit in on the briefing for the department.”

She sighed, “Okay.”

The duo entered the lounge a few minutes later. Randall gave the command team a polite nod. They made their way to a pair of seats at the center of the room. Seated, they spoke silently between themselves patiently waiting for the briefing to start..

Streth hadn’t seen the Doctor since the parasite’s extraction from Vogler’s leg. He was glad of it. Glad too that they had seemingly seen the last of the bugs above the caverns.

Cooper was the last to arrive to the briefing, even though she was a Chief Petty Officer, she was the Chief of Operations for the station and she intend to hear every detail in case her and her team need to make some adjustments.

Jones clapped his hands together. “Now that everyone has arrived, allow me to do the honors.” He pointed to Streth in regards of taking over the briefing and to Beck in regards to the new fancy upgrade. “First and foremost, I want to show everyone this.” He tapped a few buttons on the little padd in the table and a holographic three-dee image of the station and the asteroid it was home to appeared in the center. “Our Chief Engineer and his little DOT have constructed and implanted holographic emitters in key positions outside of the station to simply do this.” One tap of a button and the visual appearance of the station was replaced with nothing but rock. “Even if the Breen were to remember where this station once was, hiding it is still a crucial part of our mission. The less we are seen, the better. Plus, the Breen may not be the only ones out there that we are observing. So making it where it is difficult to find us, is a plus.”

Beck then cleared his throat. “I also went and repurposed some abandoned crew quarters, just a couple of them really. This station was designed to have a larger compliment than we currently have, so I took a couple empty crew quarters and installed a couple more auxiliary generators for the extra shield generator that I also had installed.”

This was news to Jones, as much as this was news to everyone else. “Explain, Chief.”

Beck stood up and took over the holo image on his side with a few commands. “Let’s put it this way. We have our primary shielding that protects the station and the rocky surface of the asteroid in which the station was built into. But what if that shield were to go down? What stops enemy weapons from just shimmering through our holographic screen and hitting the hull of the station? Or worse, a viewport, causing major decompression.”

Jones nodded his head. “Go on.”

“Basically the second shield generator I personally programmed to envelope an extra layer of shielding exactly where the holographic screen reaches or ends, however you wish to word it. I also programmed the emitters to work with the second shield generator so that when the system detects an impact on the shield itself, the emitters will then project a weapon to asteroid rocky surface contact to imitate that the weapon from the enemy vessel hit a rocky surface and not a shield barrier.” Beck explained. “Plus with this secondary shield protecting our most vulnerable side of the station, it gives us more than enough time to get to the Altai and to any other small crafts we have to either evacuate or retaliate, if possible.”

Jones nodded his head once more. “All right. There you have it, folks.”

“How does the Altai and small crafts return when the holo-screen is up?” Cooper asked.

“I had Dotty here place a beacon, programed in a secured, encrypted frequency, which was already programmed into the Altai‘s computer systems and the small crafts that we have. Basically, once a craft enters the proximity, the beacon will then transmit to the craft, whether via viewscreen of a Bridge, or display screen on a terminal, and will basically reveal the station itself behind the screen. Once you pass through the screen though, you won’t even need the beacon anymore, you’ll see the station and flying wouldn’t be any difficult. But it would give everyone reason to slow down and not come in at full impulse.” Beck explained.

“I’m sold.” Said Cooper as she settled back into her seat.

“Very impressive work, Mr. Beck,” Streth added.

Jones clapped his hands together once more. “All right, so now that we got that out of the way. I would like to know how everyone is settling in and how your departments are going? Any hiccups? Anything missing? Whatever it is that we may need to send a list to Starfleet along with a steady shipment of supplies every now and then.”

Randall cleared his throat, “We may have to suffer through a short period of more primitive medicine,  but I have requisition forms for the needed equipment filled out and should be sitting on the XO’s desk as we speak.  Once we get that we’ll be on par with any star base in the fleet.”

“Hazard Team is recouping,  but we are ready for any immediate action.  I plan to use the holodeck on the Altai to get regular trainings in.  Also with permission I think some zero-G and EVA experience would be beneficial to the team as well.”

Michelle looked up shocked at being addressed,  “Uh… sir.  All is good as far as I know.”

Beck shook his head, “Nah. Engineering is all set to go.”

“Operations is fine here as well. For now anyways.” Cooper shrugged her shoulders.

Streth nodded, “Excellent. This rock is starting to feel like home already.” He took a moment to survey the table, sensing that his was an opinion not shared by all, “One other thing, Beck. Ensign Ortiz I’d like to get your thoughts on this too. The spider we picked up when we arrived; any more leads on what it might be? Anything pertinent?”

Beck leaned forward, pressed a few buttons on the table panel on his side and changed the holo display to the spider. “We analyzed the data and it appears to be Breen in origin but we discovered that the spider acquired the Breen operating system. My hypothesis is that, maybe this buggard got on board a Breen vessel, tapped into their computer core like it had tried to do to ours, and downloaded their data. Probably even copied it, including the Breen user interface, text, language, everything. If it had tapped into our computer core, and I got into it then, we would be seeing an exact copy of our data, LCARs, etcetera.” Beck then handed it off to Ortiz.

Michelle shifted uncomfortably in her seat not prepared to give a full scientific dissertation to the senior staff.  She collected her thoughts for a few moments and then started, “I think this is a case of convergent evolution… or whatever the technological equivalent is, but it seems to operate similarly as the Borg. At least in its  modus operandi.  And like the Borg it takes the most beneficial technology and discards the rest. I also analyzed the data logs. I apologize,  computer science isn’t my field, but I think it sent out a sub-space signal before it was disabled.”

Jones raised his brows. “That does not bode well.”

A shiver ran down Streth’s spine at the mention of the Borg; probably the name he least wanted to hear at this particular moment, in this particular place.

D’vaid had been in ops his life as a Yeoman was not glamorous and sometimes the Captain didn’t call on him. He was just meandering through ops doing the little bit of work he could. The time currently had little to no work for him and secretly he felt excluded from meetings and events, but he shrugged it off. He was about to level the ops room when alarms started blaring. He looked back “What’s going on?”

“Uhh Sir, we have a Breen Dreadnought that just dropped out of hyperspace.” the lieutenant replied. 

D’vaid’s eyes widened and he went on a full sprint towards the briefing room before bursting through the doors. “Sorry…for…the…interruption.” he said completely out of breath. “A Breen Dreadnought just dropped out of hyperspace,”

“What?” Mouth agape, Streth could hardly believe the words that were coming from the shaken yeoman. There were a few moments of stunned silence until, “Red alert!” The base’s alert klaxon sounded in a low pitched burr. 

Astrid stood up immediately.  She looked over at Magara,  “Get the team suited up and ready to deploy.   I’ll be down once I know more.”

Magara slowly nodded his large head- a little bit of ash from his cigar falling down onto the floor “It shall be done, Black-Sun” 

Beck and Cooper looked at each other before they got up and bolted out the room, headed straight for Ops.

Jones shrugged his shoulders. “Dismissed, I guess.” He smirked and looked at Streth before he gestured to the door. “Sir.” He then made his way to Ops as well.

Soon as everyone had arrived at Ops, Jones looked at the sensor display to see the Dreadnought on long range. “Is she in range to bring it up on screen?”

“Coming in now.” Cooper replied as she tapped a few commands and the large display screen on the wall came to life to show the warship.

“Well. Ain’t she lovely.” Said Jones. “What is their status?” He looked to Beck.

Beck shook his head, “Shields and weapons do not appear to be online nor armed. Power emissions seem to be off as well. It’s hard to tell from here.”

Jones stroked his chin while he stared at the warship on screen. “Ortiz, any lifesigns on board?”

“Still too far out for accurate readings,  but I am not reading any life signs at the moment,” Michelle reported.

Jones frowned, “Possible. Very possible. Is the holo-camo still active?”

Beck nodded his head. “It is. But like I said, they may just know where the base is if the remember the coordinates from last time they built it and operated it.”

“That may be true then, since there trajectory appears to be straight for us.” Said Cooper.

“The warship is coming to a stop,” Michelle announced her fingers flying over the science station panel.

Jones frowned and looked at Ortiz. “They stopped? Engine troubles?” He then looked to Beck.

Beck sighed, “Not that I can see. I think we may need to get in closer. They’re still within our long range.”

Jones sighed and finally looked at Streth. “Looks like we will have to take the Altai out to it, sir.”

“Agreed.” Streth looked on, his expression leaden. “Streth to all hands,” his voice was transmitted throughout the base, “all personnel not assigned to essential base operations are to transport to the Altai at once.” 

Astrid left the meeting heading for the Hazard Team facilities.  She looked around at her team, “Okay folks,  we have a situation brewing. Hopefully it fizzles out to nothing,  but let’s be ready for worst case scenario.  Magara,  I know you lead Bravo Team, but I want you with me on Alpha.  Chief Sagura you will lead Bravo, and you need to be on ready-five.  I don’t want to commit the entire team to a big nothing sandwich,  but after what we went through to secure this station I am ready to prepare for the worst. Full kit people.  We’re going in like we are after an entire battalion.  Magara, bring extra charges with you.  I would hate for you to run out in the middle of a fire fight. Okay move out and meet me at the Altai in five minutes.”

“This one shall ensure this fate will come to pass, The Black-Sun’s command is respected. Magara has always been well prepared for any firefight – destruction is at the will of this one. The Chief is capable enough to lead the Team of Bravo.” he spoke, his baritone voice not belying any thought of fear nor panic. The great beast of an alien turned, and moved off towards his kit- to prepare himself for the potential coming battle, something which he had yearned for since his days among the Warherd of Akh Prime.

Astrid approached Magera and patted him on the shoulder.  “Thanks Brown-Tree,” she said just loud enough for them to hear.  Then she headed to her office to change into her hazard suit. She hoped her services wouldn’t be needed,  but she had a bad feeling about this.