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Low-key Q & A

Posted on 04 Dec 2022 @ 10:12am by Captain Easton Lawe & Commander Lucsa Myan & Commander Kristiana Petrova

1,894 words; about a 9 minute read

Mission: A New Frontier

Once his first officer had been cleared back to light duty, Easton had requested a low-key meeting in his ready room. They were making their way (slowly) back toward the convoy while watching their six, but there was no sign of the spiders following, that was good. He still had a lot of questions that he hoped would be answered at some point, but for now, just getting away from this area of space was enough. On the upside, the Hermes -- the ship to initially call them in to investigate -- had gotten away before the trouble started, so it was just the Odin getting back.

Easton was seated on the couch, electing to keep it easy for this meeting.

It took a bit longer for Kris to arrive than usual, at similar summons. When she entered, he could see why. Now walking slowly, using a cane, the ship's executive officer made her way to a chair. "Sorry, still a bit weak. Lost a lot of blood," she apologised. "Doctor wouldn't let me hear the end of it."

"That is her job," the captain replied with a sympathetic smile, which remained in place even as he added, "I'll spare you a repeat of that, but I do want to avoid losing my first officer." His dark eyes held for a moment before he gestured for her to take a seat. "Can I get you anything to drink? We're waiting on one other for this meeting, but I'm sure she will be along shortly."

Her eyes were tired but hard as she opened her mouth but decided not to say what was on her mind. Instead her expression softened as she sat down. "Something strong. With ice," she offered. "How's the ship looking? I haven't had time to go through all the reports and organize, yet. I know we lost crew," That last part spoken quietly, looking away.

The captain walked over to the replicator to make a drink for the commander as well as a hot coffee for himself before returning to his seat with a sober expression. "Yes," he said, "there were some casualties. We seem to have lost six crewmen. The ship was pretty beaten up, but the engineers are making good progress as we hurry back to home base." He paused to sip his coffee, but before he could continue, there was a chime from the door.

"Enter," he called. After a moment, in walked their mission advisor: Commander Lucsa Myan. The lanky Arrkun Sal'kiiran looked between the two command officers and inclined her head. Her expression was, one might say, Vulcanesque. "I apologize if I am late."

"Not at all, Commander," the captain assured. "Help yourself to something to drink, if you're inclined."

Lucsa was not and instead took a seat on the sofa. She glanced at Petrova, pale eyes jumping up and down for a moment. "How are you doing, Commander?"

"Commander Myan," A nod from the Ex-Oh. "Weak from blood loss. Few days rest, a few return visits to sickbay for plasma replenishment and I'll be right as rain. Thank you."

"I'm glad to hear that you'll recover shortly," Lucsa said. There still wasn't a great deal of emotional inflection in her words, but the Arrkun Sal'kiirans were not, actually, Vulcans. They were simply very austere in their expressions, so she did offer a smile but it was a small one.

With that part of things out of the way, Easton picked up the thread for why he called this meeting. "When we first brought the inert craft aboard, I did ask the commander if she was familiar with where it had come from." He gestured toward her.

Lucsa nodded once. "I was not, but I do have a personal database which contains information from the Arrkun Circuit of Colleges, including the Colleges of Xenobiology and Xenotechnology. I am not fully versed in all of its contents but it is not reliant on contact with my home world, so I was able to search it before and after the battle to see if there are any references."

"There was not much, but I did find three references to a species that sounds similar to what we encountered. No images were recorded, but the descriptions did compare. We have named them Species AA020. It seems by our best observations that they come from a separate...level of space, similar to Species 8472 which Starfleet has previously encountered."

"Well, we have a number of them aboard, now. Damaged, partially destroyed, but we're certainly going to study them," Kris offered, a dark expression coming over her. "Though I'll be honest, if I never see them again, it'll be too soon. I'm actually writing up a tactical report on my experience fighting them. Got some thoughts, some points."

Easton nodded appreciatively. "I'd like to hear your thoughts, Commander, in advance of your report."

The Sal'kiiran nodded. "I would as well. If you'd permit, whatever we learn here, I would like to write into a report for the Colleges of Xenobiology and Xenotechnology so we can fill in gaps in our own people's knowledge. Just in case we ever meet them again ourselves."

"Sure," Kris began, taking a sip of her strong drink and closing her eyes for a brief moment, to let the taste settle. "So, first things first. They come in different sizes. Largest I saw was like that artefact we drug in, a bit smaller than a runabout. Smallest I saw was small enough to fit through a turbolift shaft. They don't seem to have ranged weapons, favoring close combat with their tentacles, ripping their victim apart." Another brief pause for another drink, trying to drown the memories of having seen just that.

"I suspect they're operating through a hive mind. Wide range or local, I don't know. The way they moved - completely in unison. Only way that happens is if they're reacting to a single thought, a single decision," the ex-oh continued. "They didn't display much in the way of self-preservation. It takes concentrated firepower to take one down, but they drive headlong into that concentration of firepower. Though, I've seen them split smaller groups off to try and outflank when the larger group starts taking damage. So they've got at least some rudimentary sense of tactics."

"No evidence of shields in the ones I fought. Just ablative armor, rather tough material at that. Like I said, took concentrated, continuous firepower from small arms to take down even a single one," Kris heaved a sigh, not enjoying the memories of fighting these strange creatures. "No idea why they attacked us. No idea why they up and left. Maybe we caused enough damage to them that they decided enough was enough. We've got several of their half destroyed remains onboard. Once shipboard repairs are settled we'll start cutting them open, analyse their technology. I'm sure we'll share our findings with your people, Commander."

"I just hope there's nothing biological in there to start rotting and stink up the ship," Kris made a face.

Lucsa listened, attentively but in full quiet, contemplating the commander's thought. "Just in case, you may want to have examinations start immediately. I'm sure biological material can be scanned for," she said. She paused for another thoughtful moment. "And I agree about the hive mind, either of single voice above them--like the Borg--or perhaps a collective, a cooperative, where communications and directives move very quickly."

Kristiana contemplated a moment, steepling her fingers under her chin in deep thought. "I appreciate your recommendation to start examinations immediately, but our engineering teams are very busy. The ship took damage which, while not immediately threatening to the ship's continued operation, do require attention. Plus, we have an AI crewmember who recently became damaged in a fire, and I've got a team working to bring her back to active duty," A brief pause. "Tell you what, once that AI crewmember is active again, I'll divert some engineers to examining the - corpses, for lack of a better word."

"Engineering certainly has its hands full," Easton agreed, "but as we don't need to work on these remnants, just examine them, I think the science department can make a start of it. They have less work before them at the moment and can at least look and see if there's something unfortunately biologic inside."

"Yeah, that's - " Kris rubbed her temples. "That's a good point. Sorry, still recovering. I can spend an engineer to assist science with the mechanical aspects when needed, sure. I'll get that underway once we're done here."

The captain was concerned as he looked at Petrova, although he didn't voice those thoughts at that time. He simply nodded. "Very good, Commander. I appreciate your tactical insight, and perhaps we'll be able to gain more knowledge toward that end once we start examining the different bits and pieces that we have. I think at least I feel safe in saying that if the...creatures seem inert, they probably are. The relic didn't suddenly come back to life when its fellows arrived, after all."

"Agreed," Kris leaned back in her seat, looking thoughtful. "You mentioned references to a species that sounded like these, from their description. Have they shown hostility on this scale before, do you know? D'you think they are generally a hostile - species, or did they just take offense as us taking one of them onboard?"

"Like I said, our information is unfortunately limited, but what is in there does sound like an unfriendly species, if not outright hostile, but we have not encountered them on this scale. If I had to guess, my people have only encountered them on a scouting basis." She considered. "You are, of course, granted access to these databases if you would like to see what we have recorded for yourself."

"Will they be made available to our science team?" Kris asked.

"Of course," Lucsa said with a nod. "These are public databases for Sal'kiirans, so they will be made available to anyone on the Odin and in Starfleet."

"Alright," Petrova took another sip of her drink, nearly finishing it. "I'll keep you both updated on the examinations of these - .. creatures. What do we call them, anyways?"

Lucsa said, "We call them AA020."

Easton, a moment later, added, "The yeoman pool is calling them Steel Squids, and I overhear Murphy from ops calling them spider-bots." He smiled in a way that showed hints of amusement. It was an overall sober situation in the face of loss and destruction, but one had to find the points of light and levity where they could as well.

"I like steel squids. That seems to cover them pretty well," Kris mused. "Will there be anything else, Captain, Commander?"

"That'll be all for now, Commander," Easton said, "although there's an interesting report from sickbay that you may want to read."

"Oh?" Kris quirked an eyebrow.

Easton nodded. "Yeah, the Odin maintains its status interesting place." He otherwise would let her read for herself, and he had decided he would go learn for himself very soon.

"Alright. Well, I'll read it when I get to my quarters," Kris nodded. "Captain, Commander," with that she rose, wincing a bit as she did, and made her way towards the door again with her walking cane.


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