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After-Action Report: Senior Staff Briefing

Posted on 18 Dec 2022 @ 10:45am by Captain Easton Lawe & Lieutenant Amelia Warner & Commander Kristiana Petrova & Lieutenant Commander Cintia Sha'mer & Lieutenant Commander Thex sh'Zoarhi & Lieutenant Callisi Veera & Lieutenant Madalene Sabine

3,160 words; about a 16 minute read

Mission: A New Frontier

Once the Odin had rejoined the convoy, everyone breathed a little sigh of relief that there had been no further issues.

The next step after that, though, was to have a moment to sit down with the senior staff to touch base, discuss what had happened, discuss some other things that had happened, and then also some personnel notices that had hit Easton's desk the moment they were back in range. (Bureaucracy waited on no man, nor ship nor steel-squid.)

Easton was the first one in the observation lounge, by design, making himself a cup of coffee before taking a seat at the head of the table to wait on the senior staff.

Kristiana was the next to arrive, still using a walking cane to get around. She looked a bit pale, but at least awake and alert. A nod to the captain as she headed straight for the replicator, getting herself a large, steaming mug of espresso. Once procured she took a seat next to the captain's chair, produced a small flask from a hidden pocket in her uniform and poured the contents into her drink, smiling in satisfaction once done.

Sha'mer entered the observation lounge, sighing when she discovered others had arrived before her. She, too, had been released from sickbay one day after arrival, with a temporary brace around her injured leg and strict instructions not to put any weight on it ("I had to cut out of piece of your femur, so please don't break it before it's grown back," had been Amelia's actual words). Since the leg was still lame and likely to stay that way for awhile, not using it wouldn't be much of a problem. Being back on crutches was annoying, though, but at least she was allowed to resume her duties. ("Sitting down whenever you can, and try to avoid battles." Yes. Because that had worked so well the other times.) So here she was, glad that at least not many people had arrived before her.

She sat down on the chair which was closest to the replicator, leaned the crutches against the table and leaned back to order a large raktajino.

Next to arrive was Thex. The andorian had a cloth wrapped around her head to keep her hair out of her eyes which looked deep and tired. Her blue face was stained with sweat, machine grease and cooling fluid. Walking over to the replicator the tired engineer too ordered a large raktajino before collapsing into a chair.

Making her way in afterwards was the cyclopean rabbitess and head of the Operations division aboard the Odin. For all the world, the look in that solidary eye showed how little sleep she had had, but she was still upright and mobile. She made her way over to the replicator before even acknowledging the existence of the others in the room, and conjured forth a mug of coffee. The mug was adorable, and larger than standard. It was a white mug, and shaped to resemble an Earth Rabbit, with a carrot as the handle of the mug. The brew within was powerful and dark, the rabbitess took the mug in her grasp and took a full swig before even moving from the replicator's side. For a brief moment, she considered even refilling the mug before she simply sat at the meeting table. "Morning." she finally said, exhausted, but ready to get the day going. The first one she gave a nod to was Thex, the Andorian already helping her with her optic. Though eventually, everyone got a nod from the rabbitess.

Madalene was one of the last to arrive, she was busy putting out fires down in the labs. She didn't know how she would do this without Cydwenn, but so far she was able to get most of the projects up and running again, once entering the observation lounge she went immediately to make some of tea, specifically relen tea with lemon. Before, heading to the table to take a seat next to the one officer she knew which was lieutenant Veera, "lieutenant," Madalene said simply.

Sha'mer leaned back in her chair and watched the others arrive, sipping her raktajino. Suddenly something drew her attention. Something strange, a mind which she had never encountered before and which certainly didn't belong here… She looked up with a frown.

Ever since his chat with Kat, the support beams up in the observation lounge had quickly become one of the weird visitor's favourite spots. Now he was lying on them, stretched out to his full length, gazing out through the great observation windows at the stars outside. He was wrapped in a cloak (after having spent most of last night watching various versions of 'The Three Musketeers' and a creative half hour with the replicator selecting different musketeer outfits) and a hat, complete with long plume, was resting on the beam in front of him. The only thing he hadn't tried to replicate was a rapier, because he had discovered a dislike for 'long stabby things'.

He had been lost in thought as he stared at the stars, wondering about what was out there, wondering if somewhere amongst those distant stars the key to his own past could be found, and whether that was a good or a bad thing. He had, in fact, be so lost in thought that he never noticed the people below him coming in.

It was only when he felt someone was looking at him that he sat up with a jerk and looked down. "Oh! Hey! People!" he exclaimed. He snatched up his hat and jumped down, landing easily. "People with lots of tiny dots on them." His free hand fluttered in the direction where, on the collars of everyone in this room but him a collection of pips was visible. "If I remember correctly, that means you're all very important. From which I infer that this is a meeting which is not intended for non-dots. Then I'll leave you to it, with my apologies for crashing your meeting, although if we're getting technical it could be argued that you crashed mine first… Good day, gentlebeings," he said with only the barest pause at the end. He gave an elaborate bow, flourishing his plumed hat, then whirled around so that his cape flared behind him and strode towards the door.

Callisi gave a nod to her co-worker, her friend, Madalene. "Lieutenant." was the reply before the rabbitess was struck silent by the appearance, the visual descriptor, and then the words spoken by the being, an entity she hadn't had the distinction of meeting prior to right this moment. "Please tell me I hallucinated that from lack of sleep? I've been reinforcing digital frameworks for hours straight and have only seen my bunk in photos."

"No, he's real. I read about him," Kris readily answered before chuckling. "Which makes him sound like a cryptid, I suppose. huh."

Sha'mer just rubbed her forehead. "I haven't had nearly enough raktajino to deal with stuff like this," she muttered as she finished the last of her drink and leaned back to replicate a fresh one.

"Cryptids... what a fascinating concept." Callisi said, mostly to her coffee but enough over the rim to be part of the conversation. "Though, since no one else here reacted with calls for security or phaser brandishing, I'm going to assume that whatever it IS, what it ISN'T is a threat."

"Sensors picked up some sort of escape pod after the steel quids left. Not sure whether they'd been toting it around or if it arrived here through some other means," Kristiana explained. "Long story short, we took it onboard, he came out of it. Sickbay cleared him. I have yet to introduce myself personally and see waht he's all about, will do so after this meeting."

"You're not the only one," Easton said in a low what-the-ever-living-fuck tone of his own. He'd been resolved to meet their...guest, but that timetable was now moved up dramatically. However, the fellow had left so he turned back to the meeting at hand. Before he could continue, the door swished open.

"Sorry I'm late," a haggard-looking chief of medical said as she hurried in. She already had a drink in-hand as she made her way to her seat.

"So, first things first," Easton said, "every single one of you needs to go to bed after this." He smiled sympathetically, though he didn't actually say he was joking...because he really kind of wasn't. "We do have a lot to cover in this meeting, including that person who was just here but I'll get to that later and otherwise, I'll try to talk fast. I'll start with the personnel matters, because they should be simple. As soon as we got back in range of the fleet, personnel changes were announced and have begun. We will be receiving a new CAG and a new chief of security."

The captain glanced at the top PADD on the table in front of him. "Lieutenant Commander Sahel is taking security and will arrive...any minute now. I don't know our new CAG yet."

With an impeccable sense of timing, as if the very words conjured him, the doors opened to admit a tall Vulcan with a stern face. One eyebrow was raised a fraction higher than the other. "Greetings, Captain, officers," he said with a deep voice and strode to one of the few empty chairs. "Apologies for my tardiness. I just had a very… interesting encounter." Unspoken were the words 'What kind of ship is this?!'

"Strange human-looking fellow wearing a cape and feathered hat?" Easton deadpanned.

"Indeed…" the deep voice replied. He looked as stoic and emotionless as a Vulcan possibly could, which gave the effect of a mildly disapproving look. He appeared to be very much aware of it.

"We'll be explaining him shortly," the captain said with a faint, wry smile. "In the meantime, welcome aboard. I was just explaining about your transfer to the crew. This is Lieutenant Commander Sahel."

"Commander," Kris nodded in greet.

Callisi also offered a nod in greet, sitting up a little straighter in the presence of another command officer. "Commander." she acknowledged, a crisp tone. If a salute had a tone...

"Welcome aboard," Sha'mer added. She sighed to herself. Why did Vulcans always have to be so tall? Keeping up with him was going to be a challenge. On the other hand, their mental discipline was always pleasantly soothing, so she supposed there were both benefits and drawbacks to the new security chief.

"Unless our nameless new CAG would like to suddenly appear, I'd like to move on to current personnel," Easton rolled forward with an something near worry that the musketeer might show up again randomly. "Status report on Ensign Walker." His look swung between sh'Zoarhi, Veera, and Sabine on this one.

"Functionality has been restored to the Ensign." Callisi began her part of the report. "The exact nature of the refit and repair was something that was handled prior to my limited involvement in the reactivation." the cyclopean rabbitess concluded, before taking a slow sip of coffee. Not so much to keep awake at this point, but more to occupy her tongue before she spoke up about her feelings towards the AI. The heavily armed and reinforced AI. She winced slightly at the final memory she had inside the hangar bay prior to her lapse of consciousness. Her pride, and her natural defenses against intrusive empaths, would ensure her feelings were closely guarded.

"After helping monitor the new parts being put in, and Kat powering up," Madalene said using the AI's name in hopes of humanizing the AI a bit, "...everything seems to be going well, we are still keeping a close eye on her, making sure nothing wonky happens," Madalene continued looking around the table, still feeling like this project was hers, as she pushed hard to get Kat operational again.

Thex was feeling shattered having been up for most of the previous day and night and a good portion of the night before. Even still she spoke up. " I have the full diagnostic report if anyone wants to see it as well as the current progress report on repairs, "

Easton listened to everyone's reports, nodding. "I'm glad to hear that she's been repaired, but obviously continue to monitor her situation." He tend checked his PADD again before casting a look overhead for a moment. "In more personnel news, of a sort... Doctor Warner." He smiled a tightly. "Please...explain our new visitor."

"I don't have much yet," Amelia said with a tired smile. "So far, he appears healthy but his biology--while sharing many similarities with humans--is wildly different. We don't have anything in our primary database to match what I've seen, but I'm going to keep looking. In the meantime, he has no memory of who or what he is, but has not presented any reason to think him a threat."

"I'm not entirely sure about that," the captain mumbled but then more loudly, "Thank you, Doctor. Now, to the elephant in the room...or the steel squid, as it were. The creatures we just encountered. I'd like to hear a summary of everyone's reports on the matter, even if so far it's just personal experience. Let's start with Commander Petrova."

Kris closed her eyes for a moment. These weren't pleasant memories. But, part of the job was to give briefings about events like this, and she prided herself in being strong and good at her job. So she took another big sip of her voska infused espresso and began to give a similar briefing as she did to the Captain and the Sal'kiiran attache, earlier.

"The steel squids come in different sizes, and seem to operate via hive mind. Whether local or wide area, we don't know. Whether they work by consensus or have a singular 'queen' - " she even did the air quotes " - we also don't know. I did not observe any obvious hierarchy in their operation. They have rudimentary understanding of tactics, attempting to outflank defensive positions, but otherwise no great sense of self preservation. Technology wise they did not seem to possess shields or ranged weapons, preferring to tank incoming fire and attack with the use of tentacles. It takes a concentrated amount of small arms fire to take down even a single one."

Another large sip of her coffee, resolving to see the ship's counselor soon. "Commander Sha'mer, you were with me for the initial firefight, and encountered them again after we split up. Any thoughts?"

Sha'mer nodded. She, too, had been thinking a lot about these creatures. Artefacts. Steel squids. One name was as good as the other, she supposed. "Yes. They seem to be very determined to get to living matter and destroy it." She remembered the writhing tentacles coming from the turbolift shaft, yanking Kolak up and out of sight, and the way it had ripped apart two other security members in the bay. "From what I've seen, the things were just tearing everything apart to get to us, and then they wanted to tear us apart as well."

She looked from the Commander to the other people who were gathered here and placed her hands flat on the table to stop herself from fidgeting. "I tried to scan these things, mentally. I tried to find a mind, an intelligence, either within these steel squids inside or an overarching presence from outside. Nothing." Might've prevented at least Kolak's death if I had… "Tentative conclusion, there is either no or not enough biomatter to exude any mental signals, or if they are, they operate on a frequency I cannot detect."

Sha'mer picked up her mug, discovered it was empty, and sighed. "I've reviewed the sensor images and tactical logs from the battle. They confirm what Commander Petrova has said. They seem to use standardised battle formations but show little flexibility in adaping those to changing conditions. At one point they seemed to send out a retreat signal and vanished as a group. Maybe Lieutenant Veera or Sabine can make more of what the sensors picked up during the battle or afterwards. There was…" her mouth twisted, "plenty of debris to examine."

"I am still going over the sensor data, along with the biologicals that were left behind, they are definitely inorganic like the commander Sha'mer said, but right now I am unable to find anything like it in our database," Madalene said looking through her notes, "this could take awhile.*

Callisi gave a glance over to Sha'mer. "It's entirely possible that they're purely a synthetic intellect, hence why you couldn't find anything. You're used to dealing with and reading an organic mind, a living mind. Something purely artificial, purely digital, might not be something you could read." the rabbitess' own mind was difficult to read due to her biology. "I was in sickbay recovering from a near concussion and having my prosthetic looked at during the attack so unfortunately I wasn't at my station during the incident. I'll be heading to my department to see the damage firsthand, but after that I'll certainly go over the readings." The notion that she wasn't there at her department seemed to weigh on her features more than the notion of the concussion.

Kris nodded. "Thank you. Lieutenant Warner, you've been treating the victims, the injured. Do you have any particular insights to add?"

Amelia was mid-sip of her extra-strong coffee and hurriedly swallowed, then she smiled apologetically. "I can add that the creatures did not seem to have any sort of viral or bacterial substance on or in them that caused a reaction following their attacks on us. No infections or allergic reactions have been reported. By all accounts, their attacks seem to have been purely physical, brute force."

"I suppose we can at least be grateful for that much," Easton said soberly. The losses they had suffered already were bad enough, but secondary casualties would just make it all worse. He turned to the CEO, asking for an update on repairs. They were coming along as expected.

After that, Easton nodded thoughtfully. "Commander Myan has agreed to let us access their own database for what little they have on the creatures so we can supplement our knowledge of them. Otherwise, we just have to hope we don't meet them again." He paused to glance at his PADD, but that seemed to have covered the list. "Does anyone have any questions?"

"None." Callisi stated, simple and to the point.

With no one having anything more to ask or say, Easton gave a single decisive nod. "Alright then, folks. If you haven't submitted your final reports following the...steel-squid incident, do so soon so I can submit the ship report to Starfleet Command. Otherwise, let's finish up repairs to people and ship, and get some rest. Dismissed."


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