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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 106
# 3
02-18-2013, 05:46 PM
* * *

"I don't know what that girl's parents were thinking," the shipyard mechanic grumbled as he led Admiral Kane through the twilight maze of shuttlecrafts and personal transports that filled the lower decks of the Tranquility Base shipyards, "or whoever sent her off. That escape pod of hers is a death trap! I wouldn't trust it carry my dog to safety, much less a kid."

"Well," Marcus shrugged politely, "it did manage to get her here."

"That's a testament to our ships, admiral, not theirs," his subordinate muttered, "there's no subspace radio, no database, not even a flight plan. If we hadn't found it when we did, it would have kept drifting right through Federation space and out the other side."

"How long was it out there?"

"A hundred years, two hundred maybe? It doesn't have any records, no chronometer, not even a star chart. The thing doesn't even have a warp drive, just a Bussard collector rigged to a sublight ion engine. We had to guess its age from the wear and tear on the metal."

"No navigational system," Marcus paused in mid-step and blinked in surprise, "how did it manage to go so long without falling into a gravity well if it was flying blind?"

"That's the one clever thing on the ship," the engineer conceded, "there's a sensor relay that constantly measures the surrounding graviton field and Schwarzschild metric. Basically, if it detects a star or planet that's getting too close, it reverses the pod's direction to compensate. Hell, those programming algorithms alone are a century ahead of the rest of the ship's systems. It's like they were actually trying to use as little technology as they possibly could."

"Maybe that's exactly it," Marcus answered thoughtfully, "maybe they had to keep the pod below a certain technological threshold just to have a chance of her getting away."

"From what? Who would throw a little girl adrift in something like that?"

"What species can you think of," the admiral grimly asked, "that chooses its targets based on whether their technology's sufficiently advanced? Is this her ship?"

They'd arrived at the far corner of the deck, a shadowy alcove occupied by a capsular pod hardly bigger than a coffin. A smooth white hull with a band of transparent aluminium oxynitride where the passenger's face would be visible, and a name written beneath it, an inscription carved into the ship itself. The exolinguistics branch of the Science Council had eventually deciphered the phonetics as "Azera Xi," and its meaning as a proper name. Still, something troubled Marcus about the writing. The ring-shaped characters almost felt familiar: nothing he'd ever seen before, exactly, but something just close enough to leave him haunted by a sense of deja vu.

"That's it," the technician nodded, "I can power it up if that'd help."

"It might."

Marcus pulled out his tricorder and began scanning the capsule as the mechanic tapped a few buttons on the wall-mounted console and stirred the ship into a faint hum. Nothing unusual about the systems: they seemed every bit as minimalistic as he'd been told. The ship didn't even have life support in case the stasis system failed: then again, with no transmitter or warp drive to guarantee any hope of rescue within her lifetime, preserving the passenger's life if she woke up would probably be more cruel than merciful. No files, no programmed trajectory, not a single computer program that had so much as a user interface. As advanced as the ship's programming seemed, it operated entirely within itself, with no way to access it from the outside.

He couldn't even find those pictograms from the hull referenced anywhere in the software: every last bit of code was written entirely in binary language. He sighed to himself, started running another diagnostic scan... and that's when he realized why they seemed familiar. They weren't really the same, any more than Sumerian cuneiform is the same as the Latin alphabet, but they bore just enough of a resemblence for him to see the connection. It seemed obvious, blindingly obvious, the moment the thought actually crossed his mind, but he hadn't let himself consider it, not even with all the clues leading him here. The mechanic must have noticed the expression on the admiral's face, because after a moment his voice hesitantly broke the silence.

"Sir, are you okay?"

"Yeah," he answered softly, and then Marcus lifted the tricorder again, typing in new instructions with a quicker, sharpened focus. Now he knew exactly what to look for, and after a few more sweeps across the pod and adjustments to his scans, he found it. He didn't even realize that he'd started thinking out loud as he studied the instrument's readings.

"The power relays use a modulating current along the upper EM band that's vulnerable to nadion particle bursts," he spoke with a quick, confident decisiveness, "the hull composition is a polytrinic alloy that's missing several elements, but the structure's unmistakable."

"What does that mean?"

"It means," the admiral answered after closing his eyes for a moment, "that we need to get this ship to Starfleet Headquarters right now. As of this moment, everything that we've talked about is classified top secret. If asked, I was never here. Understood?"

"Yes sir," the engineer hesitantly replied, "what is this all about?"

"I wish I could tell you," Marcus replied with a small shake of his head, "but if I'm right about this, both our names are going to wind up in the history books."

The admiral tapped his combadge.

"Admiral Kane to the Musashi. Stand by to transport both myself and Ensign Azera's escape pod aboard and relay a message to Starfleet Command - belay that, send a message to the following list of admirals that I'm calling for an emergency meeting at 1800 hours."

"Sir," a voice piped through the combadge as he pulled out his PADD and began putting together a list of precisely which officers he felt certain weren't sympathetic toward Section 31, "that's hardly three hours from now. And you haven't slept since yesterday..."

"True," he answered quietly, "but I doubt I'll be able to sleep until they've been briefed on the situation. I'm sending you the list of admirals now. Ready when you are."

Last edited by sparklysoldier; 02-19-2013 at 03:21 PM.