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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 6: Turbulent Waters and Bravo Fleet: The Stormbreaker Campaign

SNARC

Stormlea
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Living aboard a starship got a person used to visiting labs without windows, squirrelled away bunkers of analysing data and making discoveries, of darkened rooms or overly harsh lighting bringing everything into stark focus. Mac found himself just a little off guard when he was shown into the control room for the Stormlea Nebula Array and Recording Centre, for the natural light of the mid-afternoon was just perfect.

The main monitors took up an entire wall of the room, with banks of consoles, all clearly labelled, facing towards it. But the left-most wall of the room was just a floor to ceiling window facing out over the harbour. And with the building orientation, the sun wouldn’t wash out the main screens either.

He couldn’t help but stop and snicker at the acronym on the wall with the mission logo present. Students, or faculty staff with a sense of humour, had gotten to name the project. No doubt Starfleet had its jokers, but no doubt those projects either never went anywhere or the Admiralty’s Fun Police would rename them.

Following in Lisa’s footsteps, they weaved through a couple of banks of consoles and approached someone who looked like he was maybe in his late twenties and hadn’t slept in days. A good night’s rest might take a few years off of his assessment, as well as just do general wonders for the man’s appearance. “Look,” the man said as he spotted them approaching and kicked a display up onto the main screen for all to see, not that there were many people in the centre at the time.

What was presented was a patchy set of readings gathered by a series of satellites in orbit over Stormlea and a few more spread around the Port Arthur system. Overlayed on a map of the system and nearby space it showed the storm wall approaching from the left of the screen, then a zoomed in box of the system itself showing the locations of the planets and a dozen blips moving in straight lines, the largest of which was returning back to Stormlea – the Atlantis.

Our of comms until they got a lot closer though thanks to the storm now.

“The storm is playing havoc with the sensors Doc,” the man said, “but as it gets closer, we can punch through the static. It’s definitely accelerated as Doc Birmingham though.”

And as it summoned by the use of his name, Grant Birmingham stepped into the control room, walking with a determined pace to his wife’s side as Mac himself started to walk towards the main screen the get a better read of the figures presented there. “Of course, it’s accelerated and it’s all Starfleet’s fault,” Grant accused.

“Grant,” Lisa snapped back. “You have no proof of that.”

“Yes, I do. Adrian, bring up the timeline I just sent you.”

Complying with the request, the data on the screen, which Mac wasn’t finished reviewing despite his total lack of comprehension, changed to a timeline of events going back hours. It showed the storm’s speed, then a blip in acceleration before returning to its prior speed, then another blip of acceleration, many times the previous, but the storm stayed at that closing speed. Then over the top came a timeline of Atlantis’ movement, with a singular spike when Rrr had taken the ship to warp speed many hours ago. A singular spike with occurred just prior to the storm’s permanent increase in speed.

“Well, that’s interesting,” Mac said as he looked over the rather pretty graphic before him.

“Your ship goes to warp, even just briefly, then the storm accelerates. Starfleet, causing more problems again it would seem,” Grant said. “Your people are at fault and I want to know how you’re going to fix this mess.”

Turning around, he could see Grant staring at him, the charge in his eyes. Clearly he’d done something to upset this man, or he’d built up a hatred for him based on stories from Lisa. But it likely wouldn’t matter in the long run. He’d be gone in a few days anyway, or so the hope went. And the look on Grant’s face didn’t improve when Mac just offered a slight smile.

“You’re right, this is Starfleet’s problem and we will do what we can to fix it. It’s why we’re here after all.” He turned and pointed to the first blip on the storm’s speed chart. “Though perhaps you’ve got an explanation for this blip? Anyone else in the system using warp drive around we don’t know about?” He gave Grant a moment to answer before continuing. “Or why it seems to have taken the storm three minutes and fifteen seconds after Atlantis went to warp to decide to pick up speed?” Then he turned back. “No, I didn’t think so. You’re a scientist, correlation isn’t causation.”

He noticed the student, maybe a post-grad working on a masters or doctorate perhaps, snicker, turning away to hide his face from Grant, using his body to shield a thumbs up offered to Mac.

“Shifting the blame huh?” Grant asked before turning to his wife. “I’m taking this to the press.”

“I’m the director of this project and no you’re not,” she said to him, her tone flat and calm. “We’ll make a proper press release in a few hours.”

“And in the meantime,” Mac said as he returned to the console bank everyone was around, “I’ll head back over to PAM and get ready for when we can talk to Atlantis so we can get all the final materials and personnel over to Highcroft as quick as we can.”

With bluster Grant left, with an apology Lisa left, leaving Mac and the student, Adrian. “Send me all the information you’ve got on the storm, would you? I want to flick it to my folks when they get here.”

“Yah, no worries boss man,” the student said, then offered his hand up for a high-five as Mac went to leave.

He made sure not to leave the man hanging.

Shortly after he found himself once more in the offices of Port Arthur Manufacturing and before Harold Zimmerman. “Bad news, bad news,” the said by way of greeting.

“Storm’s moving up, we’ve got half the time we thought and we need to get the Highcroft towers built before it hits,” Harold said, not even looking up from some data before him.

“How’d you know?” he asked.

“Murphy’s Law. Mother Nature is a bitch.” Harold looked up. “Wait, you’re serious.” With that, he leaned back in his chair. “We don’t have enough time. We’d need a day and a half at best with the people who I can rustle up to help.”

“Add Atlantis’ entire engineering staff to those numbers.”

“Bullshit. You have minimum crew requirements. And it takes time to get your people up to speed anyway.” Harold looked out over the workshop floor for a moment. “Highcroft Engineering can handle the foundations and some of the tower work. My folks can tackle the arrays, along with your people.” He was then on his feet, pacing. “I’m going to be taking Stormlea down to the bone to help out.”

“I’ll formally recommend PAM for any Starfleet work that needs doing in this system in the future,” Mac offered.

“Damn right you will,” Harold said. “Top padd there,” he pointed to a stack on his desk. “All the folks that will go with you. Take it downstairs, Bill and Liz can start calling and getting them ready.”

“Thanks Harold, much appreciated.” With that Mac was on his way with the padd, delivering it downstairs as suggested before his commbadge went off.

Atlantis to MacIntyre,” came not Rrr’s voice, or Gantzmann’s but Tikva’s own.

“MacIntyre here. I thought I told Gantzmann to shoot you and claim it was an accident,” he joked.

“She did shoot me,” Tikva replied, and he noted seriously. “We’ll talk about it later. We’ve just entered orbit. We’re about to call Velan and start beaming up the last lot of towers.”

“Good idea, but don’t leave just yet. Apparently, the storm is moving in faster than we thought. I’ve got arrangements for extra workers to come along and help install the Highcroft towers but it could take an hour to call them all.” To their credit, Bill and Liz took the encouragement to work faster.

“What do you mean the storm’s picked up speed?” Gabrielle suddenly spoke up over the comm channel. “We can’t see much of anything at the moment.”

“University here has a nebula observatory with more sensors than Atlantis a few dozen times over Camargo. I’ll send you what I’ve been sent in a moment so you can verify it. I’ll also include some readings I was presented with a short while ago I’d like you to investigate and try to find a cause too.”

“Alright,” Tikva said, a disembodied voice, “We’ll get started on the transporting. Then getting extra folks aboard. Once we’ve got everyone we’re off. You coming with Mac?”

“I’ll stay here ma’am, take command of the shuttles and their crews when the last of them arrive planetside. At least then I can coordinate with local services if we need them for emergency services.”

“Alright Mac,” she said. “Stay safe.”

“And you too Captain. Good to have you back.” With that, the comm channel went dead.

Turning, Mac faced Bill and Liz with a smile. “Least I do is get you two some coffee.”