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[PLOT] DL | CIO | LCDR Stacker | "Arrival"

Posted on Sun Oct 14th, 2018 @ 4:53pm by Lieutenant Commander James Stacker

Mission: Lacuna
Location: USS Campbeltown, NGC-517XA System
Timeline: SD 241810.14

“The NGC-517XA system was first surveyed by Federation scientists in the mid-22nd century, following detection of irregular light readings by the Imager 2 deep-space array on Phobos. Analysis of scans confirmed a fifteen-planet system with two possible extrasolar captures, and a suspected asteroid field. The system was on the list for charting and survey by the USS Maryland before its destruction in the 2370s. Just after this it was found to be in Dominion territory. No further exploration has taken place.”

James thumbed off the console and sat there. He was a picture in studious thought: one hand bracing him against the desk, his other hand resting against his mouth with an elbow on the hard plastic surface. When he exhaled his cheeks puffed out. But nothing disrupted the slightly-distant look in his eyes.

This was the second or third time today that he’d called up the data in the library computer. It would have probably struck some as a forlorn hope; there was nothing to be gained through such a course of action. But it did take his mind off ... other things. Most notably: her. He was almost convinced that the new few weeks would be a trial. But he could overcome it.

His eyes blinked and came back into focus when the comm badge chirped.

“Bridge to Lieutenant Commander Stacker. We’re approaching the system.”

=/\=


Streaks of light resolved into individual pinpoints of light as the ship slowed. With this came new clarity that revealed its presence in a star system. On the port bow lay a planet, still at some distance, whose dark side faced the ship. Beyond the world and peeking out around its curve was a yellow star tinted with orange. This star was a comfortable middle age with still some life left on the clock. On the starboard quarter was a gas giant whose system included more than a dozen moons.

The ship was not idle, however. As soon as it was deemed prudent to do so sections of armor plating recessed and exposed sensor clusters. These newcomers became extraordinarily busy in a very short period of time. Their primary focus was in ‘tasting’ the solar currents around the ship. What they sought was evidence anyone else was present. In the immediate area, or in the system itself.

A few of them also looked towards the planet. Cataloging, analyzing, and recording. It was charmingly anachronistic that one was a camera looking for very specific irregularities on the planet’s surface.

=/\=


Like most good commanders, when the bridge doors opened his first look was to the panels embedded above each station. They were present on every starship in the fleet. Everyone he had ever served with - and quite a few civilians as well - knew they would display a pulsing light bar coded to the ship’s status. Even now they changed to a dull blue before his eyes.

“Stealth mode engaged sir. Checking ... zero electronic emissions, five percent radiation.”

The Benzite was back in the command chair. “Put the planet onscreen.” Half-a-heartbeat later the order was amended with “overlay terrain,” in deference to the dark side of the world facing the ship.

It revealed a tad more than James had already known. For a start it confirmed that the planet’s oceans had long ago evaporated. The report from the Ascendancy had been light on details, but it did say the source of water was underground aquifers hundreds of kilometers in size. Forests had grown clustered around those locations where the water was closest to the surface. The data had warned to expect a very alien world. In that respect, it didn’t disappoint.

“Where are the catacomb sites?”

The lieutenant at operations tapped a few keys and eyed her display. “Just around the planet sir. Sunrise is in forty minutes. Local temperature 18 degrees celsius in the daylight, 3 degrees on the dark side.”

“How long is daylight?” This from the Benzite, who had by this point given up the captain’s chair to come stand on the other side of the operations console.

“Sixteen hours.” James replied in a flat tone. This had been something not far from his mind on the outbound leg. With station time running on an Earth-centric clock, duty shifts tended to be not much longer than eight to ten hours. The two of them moved towards the aft of the bridge as he continued. “Eight-hour shifts, secure operations at twilight each day and base from the ship.”

The Benzite gave a nod of understanding and looked towards operations. “High orbit please. Image the catacomb sites first. High-resolution scans to follow. Anything else sir?”

The chief intelligence officer shook his head. “Away team operations will begin in one hour.”

=/\= End Log =/\=

Lieutenant Commander James Stacker
2XO/Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170

 

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