((Bridge, USS Gorkon))
::Looking back out of the viewscreen, Chris tapped his fingers on the edge of the console in front of him for a few seconds, clearly something tripping around his mind. He chewed on his tongue before glancing back over his shoulder.::
Johns: What about a disguised probe? It might extend the range a little further and give us something to bounce our signals from.
::The holographically reskinned Jelna Captain appeared to consider his proposal through the network of lined flesh. As a greenhorn, and a Petty Officer at that, Chris had doubted whether his contributions to the discussion would be valid, considering the Admiral had the backing of the Chief Engineer behind her. However, he should've known better.::
Reynolds: I like it. How far ahead of us will it be able to scout, with the limitations on communications?
MacFarlane: It will need to remain within the range of our short-range communications. With the area affecting the probe as it's affecting us... the probe should be able to effectively double the range of our short-range sensors.
Johns: There's roughly five-hundred-thousand kilometres for it to live in before we start losing contact. Sure, the sensors on the probe aren't the Gorkon's pallets, but they're still a looking glass, of sorts. Even if it extends us half that distance further, it'll be something.
Reynolds: What sort of disguise?
MacFarlane: It’s unlikely that they will visually spy our probe, too small. All we’ll need to do is adjust its transponder to a non-federation signal.
::Chris nodded. They had plenty of races and creeds to choose from, it was simply a case of masking the communication transponder signal to that of something innocuous. Something that could blip on the radar and be ignored just as swiftly. Simply a case of finding the article that Orions would disregard and not try to tractor onboard for salvage.
::Simply. Simply felt a lightyear in the other direction.::
((A few hours later…))
::Static surrounded the outer edges of the viewscreen like a hazy cloud of snow that didn't want to settle. In the middle, flecks of white and grey appeared as the image tried to clear itself and rectify properly. Even with all the workarounds Chris managed to punch into the computer, the distortion remained. However, on the other side of the large distorted wave was a ship, definitely a ship, and a similar size to the Gorkon. With domed bubbles protruding from each surface of hull plating.
::Whoever designed it had done so with curves in mind, though Chris wondered if the request to the designer was specific enough. A punched fist of green metal, a forearm with the flesh missing, exposing the hollow between the two bones.::
Reynolds: There it is. What information can we get at this distance?
MacFarlane: Not much more than what we’re seeing on the screen, sir. Size matches what we expect of our target.
Johns: I'm getting a brief shimmer of what could possibly be a deflector shield, but we're not within enough range to tell for sure. It's safe to assume they have one.
::The fact that he could read the glimmer of a shield at a distance, even through the disruption, and as faint as it was, meant only one thing to Chris. It was a delightful message in as simple a language as could be mustered. "Here be dragons. Big Ones."::
MacFarlane: No indication they’ve spotted us yet Captain. We could send the probe in for a closer look at them.
Johns: That should bring us within sensor range to get a scan of their signatures. The transmission capacity for life signs is a no-go until we're more or less on top of them. Bandwidth demand is too heavy for anything more than a rudimentary tally.
MacFarlane: It has taken a bit of a beating from the storms, but appears to still be operating within acceptable parameters. With a little bit of luck and a fair amount of skill, we should be able to get a positive identity for the vessel once the probe is closer.
::The young Russian poured himself over the data There was one thing that stuck out at him like a maggot in an apple and accompanied the same sense of sinking dread after the first bite. He wasn't a tactical officer to know the patterns and irregularities that came with wave distortion within their sensor readings, but he could recognise when something was anomalous within the transmission data.::
Johns: Sir, I'm picking up something shifting in the sensor readings. Kind of moving like a wave.
::The Kazleti stood at the tactical console bristled somewhat, his sapphire-skinned prehensile tentacles twitching. Dark lilac eyes remained firmly fixed on the console beneath his fingertips as he spoke in a clear, deep voice to the bridge.::
Rhakmar: To be a weapon of choice in this area known, tachyon drones have, for deflector shield drain in preparation to board. What, describing, you are, Mister Johns, expected, of an identified sensor net is.
Rhakmar: With threshold line a wide net complete. If crossed, trigger a response from the ship or its defences, it could.
::Blinking away his confusion at the Kazleti's method of speaking the Federation Standard, Chris glanced down at his console and frowned. Surely the Syndicate had methods of communicating with one another when they were close by.::
Johns: We can't directly transmit communications yet, and when we do, they need to be missing several key elements of the data packet, so how about a pulse? A single pulse of raw data, establish our failing communications, let them know to lower the net. If there is one.
PO First-Class Christopher Johns