Ensign Kivik followed the others into the Engineering Lab, stifling a yawn. The last twenty four hours had been a whirlwind - from arriving at Antor II and meeting its rather haughty Governor, to watching as an earthquake trapped dozens of miners and two of the Veritas’ own kilometers below the surface. Ne had barely slept, but then, that wasn’t all that unusual for nem these days. Besides, Reade and Wong likely didn’t have time for rest.
Already, Commander Ukinix was preparing a presentation. Kivik wondered where he got his seemingly boundless energy from - or Ensign Thorne, for that matter. Perhaps they felt just as exhausted as ne did but were just better at hiding it.
Ukinix: This is Commander Core’s engineering pride and joy. Besides the 3G project. ::gesturing to empty mugs on table:: Coffee, anyone.
Thorne: Commander who? ::looking around for help. She had never heard of this Commander.::
Blake: Tristam Core. He's a Rodulan engineer that was posted here for a few years. He took a promotion out on the Alpha quadrant's border a few months ago.
Kivik waited a moment to see if anyone else would be taking up the Commander’s offer but, when it became clear that nobody else was interested in partaking, ne turned to the table and quietly picked up one of the available mugs beside the carafe. Whether it was replicated or supplied by the Brew Continuum, Kivik did not know - nor did Kivik care. What mattered was the caffeine and… oO Where is it? Ah - there we are! Oo .. the sugar and cream were hiding around the back of the carafe. Kivik wondered if the room had been set up with someone of Lieutenant Lafizatar’s stature in mind. As it was, Kivik had to stand on nir tip-toes to reach around the back.
Ne turned back to the conversation just in time to catch the name - Tristam Core. That seemed vaguely familiar. Kivik stirred nir coffee and mused about where ne had heard the name.
oO Perhaps somewhere in the crew manifest notes… Oo
Kivik: ::Intrigued:: Did you say Rodulan?
Commander Ukinix stepped forward and poured himself a cup of coffee, seemingly without any great difficulty. Kivik sirlwed the steaming mug in nir own hands and contemplated what it would be like to be so tall.
oO Focus - Reade and Wong are still down there. Oo
Ukinix: ::Rubbing eyes:: Commissioned in 2392, he’s got a century to work on it. We might have to speed up parts of the development. ::Yawn::
So - the Commander was flagging as well! Despite the situation, Kivik couldn’t help but feel a little bit heartened by that. The simple yawn that reaffirmed how ne felt - and gave nem hope to keep pushing through as well.
Thorne: I think so! ::looking at Ukinix:: I agree. We need to speed this up.
Blake: The MST is meant to be able to transport the mass of a starship across a long distance...
Ukinix: We could probably even transport a whole chunk of the mine up to the surface, but you’d lose integrity and kill everyone in the process.
Kivik nearly spit nir coffee out all over the Engineering Bay’s floor, but managed to swallow it with a nervous gurgle instead.
oO That’s the system we’re considering?! Oo
Thorne: Yeah! Like that wouldn't be good. ::shaking her head::
Ukinix: Core’s prototype beamed a Type 11 shuttlecraft from Venus to Jupiter. I’ve read his logs.
Despite nir years of training, Kivik still found it difficult to wrap nir head around the advanced physics involved in such a feat. This Core must be a genius.
Kivik: I imagine that would be difficult to implement. The power draw alone...
Thorne: How did they do this kind of rescue operation in the past?
Ukinix: ::Turning back to look at Lilith:: With a lot of difficulty. And explosives.
Kivik: We’ll need a more delicate approach for this mission of course - given the nature of the geological situation down there. Has there been much development on this tech?
Thorne: If we can apply new technology to similar rescue operations from the past, figure out what went right, and what went wrong, and go from there, perhaps that will give us a better insight?
Kivik stared at the projection before nem. The lines were beginning to blur. The Ensign took another quiet sip of nir coffee.
Ukinix: But it doesn’t matter, because any displacement of rock in the wrong place and you might get another cave in. And if that cascades…
Kivik didn’t want to think about that possibility. It was too gruesome - too terrible. Instead - ne tried to think of alternatives - ways in which the system might be safely deployed.
Blake: We can't beam all of them out of the mine, but what if we use the MST like an excavator? Using his tests for an idea of capability... that's, what, nineteen, maybe twenty metric tons we can pull away at a time?
Ukinix: Twenty six. ::Furrowing brows:: Why do we always prefix “tonnes” with “metric”? Is there any other kind?
Kivik: ::Offhand:: Well, Depending on what system you’re in, you might get hit with Klingon Imperial…
It took Kivik a moment before ne realised that Commander Ukinix may have just been joking. In fact, that question almost certainly rhetorical. There was a moment of silence.
Kivik: I’ll just finish my coffee…
The conversation resumed.
Thorne: So you mean, transport a little at a time and then test it then continue? Not only that would take a long time, but is also risky.
Blake: Would we risk cave-in by beaming earth off the team?
Ukinix: Yes. Unless we re-enforce the rock somehow, right after we beam sections out. Is there also risk of causing something seismic happening?
Thorne: There may be risks of cave ins just by standing in the wrong place, Commander. We also have not taken aftershocks into concideration.
Finally - something Kivik could wrap nir head around.
Kivik: Aftershocks may not be too much of a concern. The quake originated in an established fault due to regular geological processes. While another tremor may be possible, the fault seems to have stabilised somewhat, based on the seismic readings we’ve seen over the past twelve hours. Removing large chunks of rock from the surface will be bumpy - but I don’t think we need to worry about it triggering any further quakes, at least.
Blake: Is there a way we can send supplies in?
Ukinix crossed his arms and turned back to Core’s MST schematics.
Ukinix: The big key to the MST was the need for a transporter beacon acting as a mid-range broker. That was designed for millions of kilometres of distance, ::To Kivik:: could we adapt one to act over a much shorter distance, and maintain pattern integrity?
Thorne: ::nodding and almost whispering:: Like cave diving.
Kivik: ::To Thorne:: Interesting - is that an activity that humans partake in? It sounds… terrifying. Nonetheless, I think you may have the right idea, Ensign. ::To Ukinix and Blake:: If we can adapt the transporter beacon - modulate the frequency of the matter-energy conversion, we might be able to accomplish that, as long as we’re not experiencing too much interference. Not something we’d want to run on organic subjects, but on solid rock it may work. As Engisn Thorne suggests - I’m afraid the simplest way to calibrate the right frequency will be to go down there ourselves - in the mine - and make the adjustments.
Blake: Sending in air and water canisters might buy us more time. Maybe some support structures they can put to use themselves?
Ukinix: And we now have access to Level 1 of the mine. ::Putting hands behind back, To Blake:: Commander, I suggest we send Thorne and Kivik back to Level 1. They can install the modified beacon. I can work on modifying our transporters to work with it.
Kivik finished nir coffee and clenched nir teeth. This was not how ne had expected nir first diplomatic mission to end up. ‘Cave diving’ into an unstable mine while experimental technology beamed out several dozen tons of rock right above them… Still, if that’s what had to be done to rescue Wong, Reade, and the other miners, then so be it.
Kivik: Aye, sir. We’ll be able to get it done.
Thorne: Is there any certainty there is anyone alive down there to rescue?
Kivik shot Lillith a look of surprise. A moment ago, she had seemed almost too eager. Now that they had a feasible plan she was bringing up new doubts?
Ukinix: I’m gonna assume they’re alive. Until we’ve heard anything to the contrary. ::To Blake:: With a beacon in place on Level 1, we can attempt beaming those sorts of supplies in, including a method of communication. The lower level of the mine is very big, it’ll be like throwing a dart at a dart board blindfolded. So we’d have to randomly keep trying until we found people. It also means that sometimes we’d be beaming supplies into fallen rock.
Thorne: If we lose a lot of material, we're gonna need those replicators running at full intensity!
Blake: Not necessarily. We can use the maps of the original mines to act as a guide. If we run a few destructive simulations using the same conditions that caused the mine collapse, we may be able to find suitable locations to beam supplies.
Kivik: We can also run some scans while we’re down there, Commander - try and find any accessible conduits for the transporter beam to get through… If we can beam down supplies, though, would we attempt to beam anyone up at that point?
Ukinix: I’d stick to “things” not anything living, because… ::turning to screen, scrolling through Core’s logs:: and I quote, “I decided to go ahead and put a lifeform on the Akeelah and see if it had the same results as the original transporter design we're using. The transport itself was a full success, but then we got up close and ran a medical check. Yeah, that wasn't a success. I'll leave out the gruesome parts, but had it been a real person, things would have not re-materialized where they were supposed to re-materialize.”
Kivik’s stomach turned. Maybe it was Core’s vivid description - or perhaps just the coffee on an empty stomach. Either way, ne did not like the sound of that one bit.
Thorne: No living things?
Blake: That's fine. That option wasn't on the table anyway.
Kivik: Right. I suppose if we are concerned about the combined effects of pattern modulation and potential interference, we’ll want to wait for the clearest possible signal path to be dug before attempting a standard transport operation. How can we keep the entry points clear?
Ukinix: Every time after we beam out some rock, could we immediately try beaming in some sort of tubular material that could re-enforce the hole?
Thorne: Well we gotta try. That is why we are out here, right? To take the risks? I for one am ready to go.
Blake: Airbag kits. Rangers use them to help stabilize buildings that lose structural integrity while engineers worked on repairs, out in new colonies. I requisitioned some for Kidman I last month -- they're still in our cargo hold.
The Chief Engineer stuck his bottom lip out and nodded as he pondered the idea. An odd human gesture that Kivik couldn’t quite interpret.
Ukinix: That could work.
Kivik: I believe it would. They’re predominantly composed of air - a transporter signal would pass directly through that area unhampered by them. It may actually make our job easier.
Thorne: Let's just be certain we don't get buried alive, kay? ::Lilith reached into her pocket and pulled out a handful of candies and looked at each of them in turn and smiled:: Candy?
Ukinix: ::Holding up palm:: Oh no, I shouldn’t. ::Taking candy anyway:: It’ll go straight to my thighs. ::Popping candy in mouth, covering mouth while talking and chewing:: Thnnks Nnnsgn.
Kivik couldn’t help but laugh - a genuine expression of relief. Ne noticed Commander Blake chuckling as well. With all the pressure and worry, it was truly joyful to have someone like Thorne around walking the line between unpredictably rash and wholesome. Kivik gladly accepted the offered candy.
Kivik: ::Through a mouthful of candy:: Mmm - caramew! Thith pairth vewy nithely with the coffee! Thank oo, Wiwwith.
As Commander Blake composed herself, everyone seemed ready to tackle the problem. Despite the uncertainty of their plan - everyone seemed heartened to at least have a direction to go in.
Blake: Alright. We have a plan. But now we need a timeframe.
Ukinix: Well, it depends on the composition of the rock each time we try to beam out part of the whole, and whether there are any collapses. But I’d estimate… 24 to 36 hours? ::To Kivik, smiling:: Does our science officer corroborate that estimate?
Kivik: ::Still chewing:: That theemth vewy reathonable to me, Commandaw. Perhapth we can thpeed thingth up a bit, though if… ::Swallowing, at last:: If we avoid the duranium alloy deposits. Those could mess with our transporters - fortunately, I had some time to map those earlier and update the existing records with post-quake changes to the structure.
Thorne: Yeah. We need to move fast. If there is anyone alive down there, we don't know what they have available for survival. The beacon should help.
Blake: And how long will it take to build the beacon?
Ukinix: ::Looking at screen:: Core’s schematics are pretty detailed. The beacon doesn’t need to be that big, it’s designed for deep space. We’ll be building a working scale model. I think engineering can whip up a smaller version all of the parts in about three hours. But build can start before that though Commander, assembly can start with the first few parts in twenty minutes from now while we fabricate all of the remaining components in parallel.
Kivik nodded, feeling considerably more hopeful than ne felt on the bridge. This experimental transporter tech seemed like an unexpected win - offering the rescue team a significant and unexpected advantage in the battle to win back their crewmates.
Thorne: ::nodding:: All other material required should be ready by then.
Blake: Wil, this is your area. Put us to work.
Ukinix: Yes ma’am – um Sk- ::closing eyes, slight shake of head:: - Blake. ::opening eyes:: Yes, Commander.
The corner of Kivik’s mouth curled in a sympathetic smirk at the notoriously-charismatic Commander’s flub. It felt like Kivik could never get out a rank or name correctly. It was nice to know that even the experienced officers experienced that as well - even as they commanded confidence in their subordinates.
Ukinix: Ensign Thorne, Ensign Kivik. Beam to the mine, then get down in the torpedo casing to level one. You’ll be doing assembly of the mini-beacon, we’ll send down components via the tube. Kivik, having science down there means you can take sensor readings and adjust the beacon’s configuration based on what you see.
Kivik: ::Patting nir tricorder, slung about nir hip:: You can count on me, Commander.
Thorne: Lilith, once we form a tunnel to level two, it makes sense to have security down there to make contact with any trapped miners on level 2. Find a way to get down there if necessary.
Ukinix: ::To Kivik and Thorne:: Go get prepped, take lots of water, backpacks with food, breathing masks, the works. I’ll give our Transporter Chief Crewman Queens a PADD to give to you with assembly instructions, she’ll give it to you before you beam down. Good luck you two.
Kivik turned to Thorne and nodded confidently. For the first time since the tremor, Kivik felt like things were moving in the right direction. Not only did they now have an opportunity to save their colleagues - they would be able to save more of the miners and make a real difference to the people of Antor II.
It was their time to shine.