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The Mystery Happens

Posted on Thu Feb 21st, 2013 @ 4:02am by Lieutenant Commander Omen
Edited on on Fri Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 7:53pm

Mission: Prequel
Location: USS Nox, Bridge
Timeline: Launch Date 74

“Commander Omen,” the acting CEO on the Nox, while being reconstructed, was a Marine First Lieutenant named Orrin Vez. A tall and swarthy Kolari, his wide shoulders and the tiny burns and scars on his hands and the arms exposed on his rolled-up sleeves pretty clearly indicated he was an engineer of some sort. The fact that he had specialties in Slipstream Mechanics, Warp Dynamics and Starship Spaceframes was rather unusual, unless one considered that he had been instrumental in designing the Griffon-class runabouts the Nox was currently carrying.

While the Griffons didn’t have Slipstream (yet), their hull configuration, deflector arrays and warp geometries had been designed so that a future enhancement to add it shouldn’t make it too difficult. And he had just “happened” to be on the Starbase when Rowan had commandeered his unit, the 162nd Engineering Battalion’s “Tinker Company”.

He came to attention and presented the PADD to his acting senior officer, DNA-locked. “More of the same,” he said gritting his teeth slightly, his deep olive skin and slightly pointed ears putting his origin in the deep deserts of Rigel IV.

"At ease, Lieutenant," Omen took note of the ears. The Velth clan of Rigel IV never left their desert home save under specific circumstances. To meet one in a lifetime and survive the experience was profound but meeting two of their rare blood on the same mission struck home exactly how important Nox and her mission was to certain parties. The El-Aurian made a mental note to watch Lieutenant Vez and Commander sen'Ovannian closely, a task made easy since Omen found the Kolari marine Vez quite attractive.

"You designed the Griffons in our hangar bay," He observed casually, meeting the Kolari eye-to-eye.

“Starfleet needed an answer to troop movement,” Vez replied with a small nod of affirmation and a smile, “that wouldn’t explode as soon as someone shot at it and could do a lot of damage before it went down.” He shrugged, “My team was brilliant.”

"Humility too, interesting," Omen teased with a warm smile. "I'm pleased to have you working with us, Lieutenant. Let's see what you've brought."

He thumbed the PADD to unlock it and examined the report. He studied the diagrams included while he read the details. Life support on decks three, seven, and all of main engineering inexplicably failed during the night cycle. Sidereal decks currently supported the areas while the Sampson crew continued to move new structures in place for gamma welding.

The ship crawled with marines and Sampson's repair crew on 24 hour shifts and yet a saboteur managed to slip past them all and wreak havoc to secondary and subsystems. Omen studied the crew of the Sampson for a potential saboteur as well as Tinker Company and both possessed extraordinary records with no recent crew transfers that might allude to infiltration. Ovannian surely would have sniffed a saboteur in his crew and even now his extraordinary senses failed to catch any trace of the saboteur. Whoever did this took extraordinary measures to avoid detection. Extraordinary measures were required to catch him.

"I see no casualty report, Lieutenant Vez," Omen looked the Kolari in the eye. "I hope that means good news."

“The safeties engaged,” the lieutenant replied, “so alpha and gamma shift got to evac right as it happened, just at changeover. Forcefields went up but general alert didn’t sound and I still haven’t found the hack that went on to make that happen.” He was unhappy, clearly. “And Nox didn’t know what was happening because those sections went dead to her internals and she had a gag-routine preventing her from saying anything.”

"A clear warning just as two shifts are on site. The saboteur might be attempting to shake morale amongst the repair crews. How are your people holding up?"

Vez paused and considered before speaking. “I think there’s two of them sir,” he volunteered, not answering the most recent question but addressing something. He handed a different PADD to Omen, “Forensic observation shows that the sabotage should have been far more destructive but,” he stroked the screen to show the overlay, “it was mitigated. Somehow. The physics isn’t there unless there’s something happening we can’t account for ruining the saboteur’s efforts. This last incident should have caught both shifts at the same time and caused ridiculous casualties. The computer had been gagged so one can assume everything else had been crippled as well. Yet the safeties engaged and forefields came up and that would have been the first thing, if I was the saboteur, I would have killed.”

Omen instantly thought back to the Klingon woman that appeared in Rowan's bedroom. "I believe you're right, Lieutenant. That might explain the confusion. What are your recommendations?”

“Well I’m going to assume that the other party doesn’t want us to interfere or else they would have let us know how to detect the saboteur and prevent it from happening. This makes me think there’s a very specific reason for it. I can think of two that explain this behavior and neither one makes me happy for reasons that have to do with my speciality and from something I’m not at liberty to speak about due to security concerns.”

"Understood, go on," The enigmatic exec offered a nod to continue.

“Option One: The Temporal Prime Directive is involved,” Vez looked pained, “Option Two: Its a local but highly specialized operative for a certain section of Starfleet that feels the ends justifies the means.”

Omen shook his head negatively. "Temporal Affairs isn't so messy, meaning, we would never have this conversation nor would we remember these events with their involvement. As for the your second option, I'm very familiar with such a group." Omen's gaze drew to menacing green slits that made his feelings abundantly clear. He looked back to Vez, "If it's the same group then yes, this exactly the kind of thing they would do."

He rubbed his chin, considering the problem. "Given this evidence I assume you scanned for temporal anomalies."

“Nothing,” Vez said firmly. “Up and down the bands and I went old-school and did a Voyager on it. Nothing. I consulted a Seven-of-Nine hologram on it and she brought up a temporal argument that lends itself to the first option called the ‘Looping Paradox’.” He paused and took a deep breath to recite it, “The argument is that we’re in the temporal loop of the temporal event in which paradoxical occurrences may propagate because the resolution has yet to happen, or has happened but we’re in the period outside of the control element. In short, we know and remember these events because the Time Cops haven’t yet resolved it regressively and this section has the properties of a loop, with the potential to repeat paradoxically, until resolution occurs.”

"I recall an incident where Enterprise encountered a similar paradoxical loop. As we draw closer to the event that induced the paradox we shall see more of it. The only way to break the paradox is at the moment it occurs in our future." He gave Vez a look of admiration. "Outstanding work, Lieutenant. I shall see to tests to confirm the existence of the paradox. In the meantime you can only proceed with your work and continue scanning for temporal phenomenon. The more evidence we gather, the better our chance of solving the paradox when it occurs."

Behind Vez the bridge lift door opened and another Marine came in, this one about the same height and whereas Vez was “very fit”, this man filled out his fatigues in a way that made it look like he had been put together into them. And it had been a tight fit.

The new Marine was broad-chested and had arms like pythons, his head was bald and bore a speckled pattern of pearlescent spots that trailed from a triangular formation where the widow’s peak of his hairline would have been. The speckles were like Trill spots in many ways, though the interlocking crescents that formed the patterns and trailed over his scalp, down the sides of his neck and disappeared into his collar were a little distracting. His eyes were pearlescent in the iris but the structure appeared the same as a Human’s. His ears were pointed, but the tip and the back edge were feathered like torn leather, though they were symmetrical and seemed to be innate. They too were spotted along the back edge and the earlobe as part of the spot trail that cascaded down the sides of the head and neck.

The man came to attention behind Vez, a PADD clutched in one hand that unlike most humanoids in the known galaxy, had three thick and strong fingers and an opposable thumb.

His face had a rugged and chiseled look, a slight shading of his jaw and cheeks suggested a bit of heavy beard-shadow but the color was so slight as to be blonde or even lighter. His eyebrows were so pale they were hard to make out against his pale complexion and his strong nose had been broken at some point, producing a hook on the bridge but had been left alone.

“Sergeant Semz,” Vez recognized him from behind, likely because his steps had vibrated the floor decking and the bridge had gone utterly silent when the man had walked in. His chemophores were potent and unlike many species that suggested attraction and friendship, his suggested aggression and threat. “What have you got?”

The elusive El-Aurian studied the newcomer with interest. In the eons of his life, throughout his travels across the galaxy Omen had never encountered a being like Sergeant Semz. The newcomer presented a dominating presence in contrast to Vez but both men represented an ideal of masculinity that appealed to Omen. He schooled his composure to professional calm and admired both as their meeting continued.

“Sir,” Semz began, still at attention, “damage detail discovered something during the failover response of the safeties.”

“Something above your paygrade Corporal?” Vez asked so softly most even close wouldn’t have heard it.

:Yes sir: came an unexpectedly soft reply. It wasn’t telepathy or psionics of any kind, at least not directly. It seemed as if the Corporal had ‘spoken’ without actually ‘speaking’.

“At ease and explain please,” Vez asked.

The large marine went to parade rest and held out the PADD, which reached up over his shoulder and took without looking to make sure it was there; clearly they had done this before. As he released the PADD his hand disappeared behind his back as Vez and Omen inspected a PADD that appeared encrypted with garbage data. :Your initial theory regarding who may be responsible for the sabotage didn’t seem to bear under scrutiny for the secondary until I applied a phase variance scan in a bandwidth range that that group had been reported using once, on DS9, several years ago. I confirmed that there were traces, very fine, old and degraded. The timeframe of the trace puts them at the site a month ago, give or take a few days. Then we discovered a DNA trace that gives us a negative reading on the quantum scale but we were able to identify at least part of the species in it as Klingon:

"A negative reading on the quantum scale," The intuitive investigator pondered. "That can only mean that the one who left the trace was from the future."

A few steps to consider what this meant. "A being from the future present at the site a month ago. Lieutenant Vez and I were just discussing the possibility of a temporal paradox, a time loop and now you present strong evidence in support for the theory," Omen addressed the intriguing marine directly. "Were you able to isolate at what point in the future the trace originated?"

:Forty-eight years, seven months, sixteen days and eleven point three hours: the Marine Specialist replied promptly. :There were some other odd resonances but I’ve no record of them to compare to nor am I able to determine what caused them:

"Copy your findings to a chip and present them to me at first opportunity," Omen looked Semz in his silvery eyes. "What trace have you found of the second signature?"

:It is my belief that the second option IS the first resonance trace, not the DNA trace:

"Understood," Omen found Semz increasingly distracting as his race and method of communication piqued his curiosity. He willed the sensors in his body to examine quantum signatures and aura qualities he read from Semz. He then took his sliver devoted to bodily functions and assigned it not to study Semz but Omen's body. There were many forms of communication outside vocal speech and telepathy. The elusive El-Aurian suspected chemophores.

It didn’t take more than a moment for the sliver to find the source of the effect. Omen’s body had been invaded by what appeared to be a symbiotic virus that went straight into the linguistic center of his brain and seemed to be stimulating his sensory centers. What was perhaps insidious about it was that the virus had assumed a biological signature that matched those of his body and completely hid them from external detection methods.

Omen processed this information and considered the many ways such a virus could be turned into an attack. He set Body to work programming the counteragent without producing it. For now he wanted to study how the virus affected his senses.

He then continued without a break in his words. "Understood, what do we know about this trace?"

:Only the resonant range:

"What can we do to track these traces?" The El-Aurian exec kept his gaze on Semz.

:Without using the WDF: Semz seemed frustrated :nothing:

"As the famous author, Ray Bradbury once said, 'The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance - the idea that anything is possible.' Let's break this down," he looked between the two marines, "What process is required to track these traces?" Omen panned his green-eyed gaze between the two marines.

“We need the waveform discriminator from the main deflector’s portion of the slipstream drive to scan for it,” Vez replied a little tiredly, as if he’d already bashed this apart and put it back together many times. “Of course, we can’t use it yet because half of it was crushed and hasn’t been replaced. And then if we could, somehow, bypass those parts and use it, we’d light up like a supernova in a dark-matter nebula and have TP’s all over us.”

"Sergeant Semz, you mentioned learning how to scan for the traces from an event at Deep Space Nine. How did you perform the scan?" Omen wondered.

“I used a tricorder that I modified,” he spoke normally now. “The modifications are precise and require constant adjustment to maintain a lock on the variance, which shifts slightly, depending on the angle you scan it from.”

"We may not need the waveform discriminator," The El-Aurian turned his attention to Lieutenant Vez, "We might be able to replicate a dedicated scanner that adjusts to track the signature the Sergeant discovered. We distribute the scanners amongst both Tinker Company and the Sampson's crew, similar to a tachyon detection grid only with personnel."

“Sir,” Semz paused after he said that, a slightly pained expression on his face. “I oversimplified my explanation. There’s nobody else in Tinker Company that can do what I do, or on this vessel, or anywhere in this quadrant that I’ve been able to find.” Vez, gave a glum nod of agreement. “I wanted to downplay it but it appears I may have created an incorrect picture of what is required and the skill and abilities at play.”

Omen clasped his hands behind his back. He gave Sergeant Semz a steady, green-eyed look but he spoke with an edge of clear disapproval. "I hope you're not in the habit of treating your superior officers like idiots and wasting our time, Sergeant. The captain is less forgiving than I am. Now," he pressed, "please explain."

“I..uhm.. speak to machines sir,” Semz temporized quietly, seemingly trying to explain it. “I believe its a racial ability but having never seen one of my species before, I’m not an authority on that. So, when I say I ‘carefully made tiny adjustments constantly’ I mean to say the tricorder did the adjustments as I linked with it and used its sensors to see what I was looking for.”

"An intriguing ability, Sergeant, and one I expect you bear proudly, and loudly if it comes in handy in the future, do I make myself clear?" Omen peered sternly.

“Aye sir,” he replied resignedly. “I haven’t advertised this ability because of the way I’ve noticed that strange and new things can disappear by ‘well-meaning starfleet officers’ to be ‘examined for the good of the Federation’. I’ll play it your way, going forward.”

"I understand your concerns, Sergeant," Omen tempered his earlier harshness. "I'll bring your situation to the Captain's attention and we'll consider how to defend your rights. For now I'll log your contributions to this project as 'indigenous expertise.'" He flashed Semz a clever smile.

"Appreciated sir," Semz nodded slightly and smiled.

"I'm going to lay this on the line, gentlemen," Omen spoke boldly, as if accustomed to addressing marines. Tinker Company is known for solving impossible problems under the worst conditions. Gentlemen, I think this qualifies. We're in a silent battle. We have an enemy bent on destruction of the Nox and an ally apparently fighting a running battle across time. As much as I want to roast our saboteur and assist our unknown ally, getting Nox mission ready on schedule is our priority. To that end I want a means by which we can detect and disable sabotage to ship's systems as well as tampering with Nox's computer. We need options. Sergeant, what is the range on this ability of yours?"

“Touch,” he replied instantly and then added diffidently, “mostly. Sometimes I can communicate with some devices at range but it’s usually medical equipment or things with extremely high band transceivers in them.”

"Medical equipment and high band transceivers..." The enigmatic exec rubbed his bristly chin thoughtfully. "Sergeant, I'd like you to meet with J'dAs, he heads medical and sciences for Nox as well as Lieutenant Yamparti, our Chief Intelligence Officer. His specialty is signals so together we might come at this challenge with a fresh approach."

“Understood sir,” he replied.


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