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First Steps

Posted on Thu Aug 23rd, 2018 @ 5:30am by Lieutenant Commander Merzia Jalel & Lieutenant Benjamin Ingram Dr & Lieutenant Mara Ricci & Lieutenant Meilin Jiang & Lieutenant Casey Washburn & Lieutenant JG Jonathan Forrest & Lieutenant JG Devin Ward & Ensign T'Niam

Mission: The Eyes of Janus
Location: Briefing Room
Timeline: MD 01 10.00

Lieutenant Commander Merzia Jalel took in the view out the briefing room’s window. The Typhon Expanse stretched before her, and it was easy to forget the political troubles that troubled the rest of the quadrant. Out here, there was just the pure thrill of discovery, and, it turned out, a note of hope.

The door hissed open and she looked up with a smile as the Palatine’s senior staff began to arrive. Though she’d seen them all about the ship, this would be their first formal briefing as a staff under her command. It felt like a good note to start her command.

To her pleasant surprise, Meilin arrived first. Punctuality was a hallmark of the Tao. "Good morning, Captain," she said meekly before taking her seat.

Devin walked in a few moments after Meilin she had (snuck into more than one staff meeting during her career- mostly while checking out certain officers that had been abusing their rank and privileges) this was the first one she had been called into joining as a senior officer. She and Sarish had done a lot of work over the last two weeks. Devin had spent much more than her preference of reports and paperwork. She was more than happy to be out of the office and away from the desk. Devin offered up a cheeky smile of greetings but said nothing yet as she found an empty chair near the center of the table and slipped into it in a fluid motion.

Engineers were never on time. Never. Which is why Mara made a conscious effort to get to the briefing room as punctually as humanly possible. Luckily, that turned out to be about five minutes early. With a cocky sort of half grin on her face, she entered the briefing room and glanced around at everyone there. "Good morning," she said as she took her seat.

Jonathan had been up late talking to his moms, for perhaps the last time in a long time, and the conversation had gone on far longer than he had anticipated.

So, when he walked in, just a moment or two before he would officially be late, he looked a bit disheveled. His uniform was crisp, freshly replicated and he had a trace of stubble on his face. "Good morning," he said quietly as he headed to the replicator to get what for him, was a rare thing, a cup of coffee.

T'Niam was not the first to arrive, nor the last. She nodded to those assembled as she entered, gliding towards a vacant chair with her hands clasped neatly behind her back. She glanced at the new Captain with a curious tilt to her brows. Her gaze alighted on Meilin and Lieutenant Ricci, and her lips quirked upwards in acknowledgment of the two women. "Salutations," she greeted the party serenely. Her promotion was unexpected but welcome, and this would be her first such briefing as a member of the senior staff.

Wash came through the door, walking at his customary brisk pace. His morning had been quite busy so far; his review of computer security was wrapping up nicely. He was already more caffeinated than usual and saw no reason to stop. He quickly ordered a caffé macchiato from the replicator and took his seat, his large hands dwarfing the tiny espresso cup. He pulled out his personal PADD just before hitting the chair and uplinked it to the Computer.

Ingram entered last. He said nothing, no note of apology or excuse. He merely walked in, settled into his seat and wove his fingers together over his PaDD. If Commander Jalel wasn't going to apologise for delaying the analysis of the nebula, and thus depriving the universe of a net gain of knowledge, he certainly wasn't going to apologise for poor timekeeping.

“Let’s get started,” Merzia said, bringing up a display of a roughly bowl-shaped golden cloud. A single point of light shone where the centre would be if the cloud were part of a sphere. “As you know, we’ve been investigating the Satabo Nebula. As the Nebula rotated, the subspace telescopes at Deep Space Ten got their first glimpse of a star previously hidden behind it, currently catalogued as K2389-251.” She glanced around her officers with a smile. “And I’m told Ensign Logan in Astrometrics is taking suggestions for better names in the report.

“We’ve found, though, that the Satabo Nebula has been hiding something else. At 0812 this morning, we detected a primitive subspace signature near the star. It looks like someone is undertaking their first warp flight, and we’re in place to be their introduction to the interstellar community.”

Well, that was certainly exciting. Of course, Mara didn't expect to be on the first contact team, but she certainly hoped she'd get a chance to inspect their ship at some point. She'd never gotten the chance to see a primitive warp ship before. Of course, only an engineer would be interested in that sort of thing. "Do we know anything about their culture, yet?" she asked.

Merzia shook her head. “Very little, if anything,” she said, “I haven’t authorised any probes into the system yet - if they detect the probe, it may sour our future relations, and I intend to open direct talks with them soon enough. We can hopefully learn more in an open and honest fashion then.”

She touched a few buttons on the console on her armrest, and a holographic display of the system began slowly rotating above the table. “Twelve planets, with around a dozen more dwarf planets. Their world is the fourth out, with two smaller moons, both with colonies. They seem to have an operation on one of the moons of the fifth planet, but we can’t be sure yet if that’s a permanent colony or a temporary expedition.”

She touched another button, and audio began playing. The music was serene, almost haunting, but also very cheerful. It brought to mind nymphs and shepherds and enchanted forests. There were some drums tumbling over one another in the background, giving the whole thing a sort of primitive sophistication. Overall of this was some sort of flute running through all the notes in the known universe and then some in frantic, yet easy succession. The music, on the whole, was a contradiction to itself, but beautifully so. “There’s also this. One of several continuous radio broadcasts, most likely musical entertainment. Xenoanthropology believes the flute sounds are likely a form of language, possibly singing. Though we could just be listening to a very beautiful sounding weather report or traffic flight directions. The universal translator is being fed the data, we’ll know more soon.”

It was beautiful, at least to Mara. Being a musician meant appreciating all forms of music and listening to them with a pure mind, picking up all the subtle nuances involved in making it unique. “If that’s language, it's the most original one I’ve ever heard,” she commented quietly.

Meilin nodded, though said nothing. She wasn't a linguist, but her native Cantonese language allowed her to count several Tones in the audio clip that could certainly amount to some sort of language. Music and even mathematics were often regarded as a universal language, even forming the basis of Starfleet's Universal Translator, so that observation was not particularly profound. It simply was. Meilin enjoyed the quasi-music nonetheless.

Wash mentally noted the position of the test, just beyond the orbit of the fifth planet. “The energy output,” he began, “suggests their craft reached a velocity of warp factor one point one five and maintained that speed for approximately seventeen minutes. The transmissions we detected...were they RF or subspace radio?”

"Perhaps both," Meilin suggested. "What concerns me most is their intentions. Since probes have been ruled out, might we utilize long-range active sensor sweeps in order to determine what sort of craft we'll be encountering? If we show up unannounced and they're loaded for bear, then it's possible our first contact encounter could turn... unpleasant. Especially if they have slower but more heavily armed defensive vessels waiting in the wings."

Devin had closed her eyes listening to the musical radio broadcast, its various notes struck a chord deep within her, like a forgotten memory being recalled just because of hearing the melody. She resisted a shiver as she looked the display, listening to the commentary made by Meilin and gentle giant Washburn, "It sounds very much like a symphonic language if they're exploring I certainly look forward to meeting them." Devin retorted cheekily before she added, "If however, they intend to mimic the Borg or something yeah not so much."

“We’ve only detected RF broadcasts so far. There’s nothing to indicate they possess other subspace technologies such as communications or sensors,” Merzia said, “As such, I’m comfortable keeping us at the edge of their system and watching - without intruding - for a few days.”

T'Niam listened to the music with an attentive ear, eyes lifting towards the ceiling as she took a moment to reflect upon the information. She turned to tune in to the conversation between Meilin and Lieutenant Washburn, mind ticking over. "Are these recordings the only cultural information we have gathered thus far?" she asked. "And if so, are they localised to a specific area of the planet?" Evaluating the uniformity of the culture would be a valuable aid in beginning to assess the possible diversity of the population.

"Have we informed Starfleet Command of our finding?" Ingram voiced from his end of the table. "Far be it from me to reign in the rush of exploration and discovery, but First Contacts can be tricky. As our Tactical officer pointed out, they might not be peaceable. It might be wise to gain insight from more...seasoned heads on how to proceed."

It galled Ingram, truly it did, to side with Meilin on that topic. If primitives threw's slings and arrows at them, then all they would accomplish was riling up the lighting.

"After all, a good first impression is important."

“We could end up intimidating them,” interjected Wash. “Showing up with a state-of-the-art starship, when their science has just now figured how they could feasibly get to the next star. “

Merzia held up a calming hand. “It’s true, we may anger or frighten them, and we need to do whatever it takes to make their introduction to the larger community a graceful one. This isn’t the first time I’ve established first contact with a species for the Federation, though, and I’m confident we’ll navigate those waters successfully. I’ve sent a message to Starfleet Command, and have a call scheduled with the Federation Diplomatic Corps to discuss the use of an advisor via subspace relay. I’d also like Ensign T’Niam to provide further assistance in negotiations since we don’t currently have a dedicated diplomatic team aboard.”

She turned to T’Niam. “Ensign, you asked if there were other cultural information sources. As I mentioned, there are other radio broadcasts, of which this is just one. Not all are plain audio, either, though we’re still working on how to translate the others into meaningful signals. Hopefully, some are video, and we can get a better look at our new friends. In any case, the broadcasts are mostly coming from the land masses between the arctic circles, nothing particularly surprising there. If possible, I'd like to eventually send our infiltration experts down to the planet to get a ground view, but we may not have that time.”

Merzia took a deep breath, and looked around at her officers, “That brings us to the downside. I know many of you might feel we’re rushing into this when we could just mark the system for future observation and get a specialist team out here to work through it slowly. Unfortunately, we’re close enough to the Romulan border that eventually the Romulans are going to notice these people, and that’s going to be a far less pleasant introduction to the neighbourhood. Worse, if the Cardassians realise there’s a first contact situation here, they may try to claim them as a protectorate in order to get a staging point against the Romulans. We may be the only chance these people have of not getting subjugated and caught up in an interstellar conflict.” Though I’m not exactly looking forward to explaining any of that to them, she thought to herself.

"Depend on their cultural background, their world leaders might not see much of a difference between us," Benjie said thoughtfully before tapping the table with a finger. "Point to consider, are we the first contact these people have had? I assume the warp signature of their test ship has been run through the Starfleet war book to make sure we're not dealing with a tech transfer from either the Cardies or the Romulans? We might be flying into a poisoned well."

"Look," Jonathan spoke up, "I know I'm probably the youngest Senior Officer and technically, the one with the least experience. But I've been on starships most of my life. And I realize that there is some degree of risk here. Especially as Benjie says we're flying into a poisoned well. But isn't it our job to take risks? Aren't we called to protect other species?"

"I'm not saying we go in with phasers blasting, but the only way we can know if it's poisoned well is to go down there to find out for ourselves. How can we make informed decisions, without information. If there's going to be an away team, I want to volunteer."

"The Commander said the Infiltration specialists will go in eventually, far as I am aware you're our best helm officer if there's need for fancy maneuvers that is where you should be," Devin said she didn't want trouble especially when Infiltration was her specialty but she had Sarish Anjar as well. She didn't know enough about the (from his words she pegged him) as slightly overzealous helm officer though.

"I thank you for the compliment, Lieutenant," he said, "and if that's where the Captain wants me, then that's where I'll be. But, with all due respect, you're not the one in charge of making those decisions."

Devin smiled cheekily, "As the Chief of Intelligence and the current officer with the most experience in Infiltration measures I do have a bit of worth in the assessment and assignment, but yes the Captain will have the decision after being given all proper details suggestions." She said it all in complete calm but her eyes glittered. She hated being addressed by her rank instead of her name.

"We are, I think, getting ahead of the situation," Meilin said softly though no less firmly for it. "Perhaps if we were to gather more information, an agreeable course of action will present itself rather than be won through quarreling."

Mara nodded sagely in agreement, but said nothing. There was nothing more to say, really; Meilin had said it all.

“Agreed. I thank you for your enthusiasm, Jonathan, but we’re not ready for an away team just yet. For now, I want you, Mara, and Wash going over our data on their warp drive, as well as any other technology we can observe. See if you can determine if their technology has been acquired rather than developed. I’ll assist you where I can. Dr Ingram, I’d like you, T’Niam, Meilin, and Devin considering what we can deduce of their culture from their broadcasts, or other non-invasive techniques. Dismissed.”

 

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