(( Conference Room, Deck 1, USS Atlantis ))
:: Serala sat down at her usual seat at the briefing table and waited for the Captain to enter and begin the briefing. She was sincerely hoping Stevok wouldn’t have to leave. Supposedly, he was assigned to Atlantis, but she kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, as the human phrase went. Her last few days had been virtually blissful. Ever since Logan had brought her that gift. After that, it had taken her devotion to duty to pry the two apart, and then for only as long as duty required. It was as if she was getting that honeymoon they had never had. Vulcan tradition had actually required that they live together for at least a year following their marriage, but their separate duties had prevented that. Stevok seemed determined to make up for that lack now. Of course, that had been interrupted by a call from the bridge in the middle of the night to report for a mission briefing at 23:30 ::
:: Captain Brell had been the first to arrive and had set out water. She stifled a yawn and reached for the pitcher and a glass. Shortly, everyone else had arrived and the briefing was ready to begin. She was glad to see Toryn here. He still looked rough, but definitely much better. She just wondered how he was holding up mentally. Maybe she should speak with Stevok about him. Captain Brell called everyone to his attention and began the briefing. ::
Brell: Good evening everyone. As many of you are already aware this ship has set a course into the Jenatris cloud. Two days ago a team aboard the Chon outpost we discovered in the cloud during the Korri rescue last year reported that their computer seemed to be searching for DS26. This morning they were able to discern four more similar signals emanating from the cloud. The lead scientist attempted to use Chon frequencies to hail each location, each responded with an automated signal. Four Chon outposts less than a light year apart from the one we had already discovered.
:: He tapped on the holographic displays in the center of the table and the cloud materialized into view. Zooming into the location of the Chon outpost discovered during the Korri rescue the location of the other signals were displayed along with the data received by the research team from each of them. No physical representations were shown as the computer had nothing to go on other than each varied in size by comparison to the one they had discovered last year, which was about the size of a typical starfleet subspace relay station. ::
Williams: I take it we know very little about them aside from their locations?
Brell: It isn't exactly clear how they are searching for DS26, it looks as if each is sending out some kind echo-location beacon or message into subspace.
Williams: Like an old fashion sonar or radar sir?
Kiliak: I'd describe it more like how grouped wireless electronics attempt a data handshake pingback call to reestablish bandwidth connection after a loss in latency.
Brell: Of the four, one appears to have suffered some kind of severe systems disaster, as in its reply message was the Chon symbol for orange level repairs needed. The team tried to get a status report from it but were unable to do so, as remote commands were offline. That means a Chon access code of level 8 or higher is required on site. With those codes in short supply and our inability to make DS26’s computers grant any more even if it was here, only Williams and myself have a level eight, and nine codes respectively. So the two of us and Dermont will make up the team going to that outpost.
Williams: Right. That means we should stock some Chon tools as well. I take it you can give me a quick course on how to use those chief?
Brell: The other three stations had the same status readouts as DS26 did upon our discovering it, systems active on standby. Just like the starbase they have been sitting out here for thousands of years unnoticed. So standby could mean you find gas inside like they did on 26 or might find the place perfectly sealed, or it could be full of some other Chon experiment like the telepathic space bugs we found on the first one. Though each reported a few odd elements.
:: Five outposts sitting there obscured by the cloud being passed right by every time a ship went through the corridor. It was enough to nearly make his blue head spin wondering just what other mysteries the cloud might hold. ::
Knight: I know we like to think the Chon race was peaceful one but we need to accept the possibility that they may have some kind of security in place, whether or not its still functional is anyone’s guess. Even as advanced as they were, they must have had a reason to place these facilities inside a spatial anomaly.
Logan: Maybe to keep them away from whatever them disappear
Brell: Commander Serala, :: Serala was already paying close attention to the Captain, but when he called her name, she became even more attentive. She was about to lead another mission. :: you will take along Captain McKnight, and Lieutenant Avae to the second outpost which we are calling Beta. It’s status readouts reported security systems were offline and that medical attention was required. When queried by the research team about medical situation and number of person aboard, the Beta’s computer replied, no crew or humanoids aboard, and nothing but that to any like request they made.
Serala: Understood, sir. I just hope one of them scored better than I in engineering while at the Academy. :: It was an attempt at humor, but it was also true. She was a B student at best when it came to her Engineering classes. The joke must have fallen flat since no one even smiled at it, much less chuckled or laughed. ::
McKnight: Just in case, I'd like to request more Marines for each time. We don't know what to expect. 4 per group at a minimum, sir.
Brell: Lieutenant Hyden, You will lead a team to outpost Gamma. This outpost did respond to the first status request but none after.
Hyden: Excuse me Sir, Can you give me some more information than that? That’s barely anything for me to go. Any idea as to what the outpost was or had on it?
Hyden: Well that helps some, but it’s still somewhat vague, but I will work with it. Who will be going with me?
Brell: Lieutenants Kiliak and Danara will be going with you, and should be able to help get you into the outposts systems.
Hyden: That will be most useful! Anything you two have to add? :: She said looking at Danara and Kiliak. ::
Kiliak: I'm sure the three of us are up to the task. Looking forward to working with you in a more direct capacity, Danara.
Brell: Captain Logan, you will be taking Lieutenants Maeli and Knight with you to outpost Delta. Similarly to Gamma, this outpost has not responded to any query sent from science team other than the first one. It too is still searching, and for some reason not responding in any other way.
Logan: Don’t worry sir knight, they squire will see to the horses
Knight: We’ll get the job done, Sir.
Brell: Each team will take a shuttle to their outpost that are currently being outfitted for flight in the cloud. The shield matching programs should enable each shuttle to easily dock with the outposts. Atlantis will remain in the center of them just in case any team needs extraction. It will not be easy to know what is going on as regular comm communications will impossible. Commander Raga, you will have command of the ship for this important task.
Raga: :: Clearing his throat :: Yes, sir.
Brell: We should be arriving at the central point coordinates at 0800 would like all teams to launch immediately after. Hopefully we can not only locate our missing starbase but can also learn more about the Chon in the process.
Kiliak: Agreed. I would be interested to learn how these stations have survived the harsh conditions of the Jenatris for so many eons when it seems we're always on a timer as soon as we enter the Cloud.
Raga: Sir. I might suggest each team bring pattern enhancers along and set them up on each station. An emergency precaution, given the nature of the Cloud. They could link them to their shuttles just in case.
Williams: Good idea, Commander.
Kiliak: Yes. I was thinking the same thing. It certainly won't be possible to beam personnel in most circumstances within the Cloud what with the limited transporter capacity of our shuttlecraft. Teams will have to make their initial entry manually. Once multiple pattern enhancers are set up, there's at least a chance at signal acquisition, but honestly, I advise nobody count on a beam evac while in Cloud conditions unless it's situation critical.
Knight: I would also like to recommend that each away team utilize environmental suits when not on the shuttle in addition to Cmdr. Raga’s suggestion. Our last mission into the cloud displayed the rather “lucid” effects the cloud can have on unprotected personnel.
Brell: Both are prudent precautions. Beaming someone with all the interface the cloud kicks up pretty much requires enchantment. EV suits or rebreathers at the least should be worn by all teams boarding the outposts.
Raga: With all the shuttles in the Cloud, if we have to move the ship to assist one, we might lose communication ability with the others. We could launch a few Class 4 probes equidistant from each away team and Atlantis. They have shields. :: He looked to Dermont and Kiliak :: Could they be modified like the shuttles to survive in the Cloud long enough to be of use as comm relays?
Kiliak: Comms loss may or may not be unavoidable, it's hard to predict. We have a team that's been working to improve our shield variability patterns on Atlantis and her shuttlecraft, we may be able to adapt that technology to our Class 4's as well.
Knight: It’s not necessarily just the shielding on the probes that you have to worry about, the distortions in the cloud are extreme to say the least. The probes would need a larger than normal power supply to be even remotely reliable.
Williams: Jo, anything we can do about that?
Kiliak: ...how about a bigger power supply?
Williams: That should do. Right captain?
Brell: Agreed, modify as many as needed.
:: After all the questions had been fielded Brell spoke up again. ::
Brell: Alright, everyone is dismissed, get some rest and report to regular stations for our arrival. Teams leads will give final briefings in the shuttles if needed after departure.