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A Prelude to First Contact

Posted on Wed Jul 26th, 2017 @ 9:46pm by Commander Brooke Niamh & Lieutenant Commander Christopher Dynehart & Lieutenant Grace Shaw M.D. & Chief Petty Officer Kiay Harding & Commander Maxwell Pierce & Lieutenant Anaya Chamling & Ensign Ian Murphy & Ensign Mira Evans & Petty Officer 3rd Class Dassia Vas

Mission: Season One, Episode Two - Effigies of the Doomed
Location: Ward Room
Timeline: Current

Commander Pierce was finishing up his lunch of emergency rations when Dassia Vas contacted him over the comm. "Vas to Pierce."

"Go ahead, Dassia," he said as he wiped crumbs out of his beard.

"I've received a data packet on the same frequency that the Koparaans used to respond to our distress call. There was no accompanying message."

Max had been waiting some sort of contact from the arriving aliens, so he was relieved that something had come through, even if it wasn't a standard communication. Why all the intrigue? Why couldn't they just say 'hello' like other species? Was it a cultural issue? Was there something they're trying to hide?

"Patch the packet through to the ward room and alert the command staff and science team," Pierce said with excitement in his voice. "Let's see if we can't find something out about our guests."

"Aye, Commander. I've notified the team and they are en route to the ward room."

There was definitely an air of expectation around Ensign Mira Evans as she stepped into the Nomad's Ward Room. Even Mira's hair, normally worn loose, seemed to reflect her present attitude, as it was tightly braided and hanging down her front.

But for Mira, there was a lot of reason to be both excited and tense. She was, after all, the Federation's leading expert in the species and societies of Sector 557B.

But all the information she had was either data that could be gathered from a (far) distance, or had been learned from questionable sources who had themselves learned it secondhand.

And now they were about to have their first contact with a species from Sector 557B, and all the theories, speculations and suppositions that Mira and other anthropologists held about 557B were about to meet hard facts.

With a nod to her Captain and his yeoman, Mira settled into her seat, impatient for the briefing to begin.

"Welcome, Ensign," Commander Pierce said with a smile. "Your reputation precedes you. I hope whatever intel we gather from this data will help you to paint a clearer picture of these aliens."

Mira gave a quick nod of her head, a slight blush coming to her cheeks at Pierce's compliment. "I must confess, I do rather feel like Marco Polo at the moment, though I hope the Barrens doesn't end up being the Nomad's Gobi desert."

A cackle of laughter erupted as the doors to the ward room slung open, Grace Shaw and Kiay Harding both walked in with Commander Niamh, recounting how they’d just spent the last thirty minutes being trapped in a turbolift. “If it had not been for that god-awful Tellarite rescuing us, we’d have been trapped in there forever!” -Grace guffawed.

“I genuinely thought I was going to have…” -Kiay didn’t finish, he saw Commander Dynehart staring back at him, almost glaring at the frivolity that had arrived in the ward room at the same time as him. He shook his head and proceeded to take a seat.


Chris had entered the room from another entrance, he acknowledged Max and took a seat between Evans and the commanding officer…

“Was it something we said?” -Brooke asked rather sarcastically, both Kiay and Grace giggling like naughty school children behind her.

Following Dynehart into the wardroom, Ian loped over to a seat before all the good ones were taken, setting down his PaDD and metal coffee mug on the table. He was already sporting five o'clock shadow and by the looks of the present situation, shaving would be a low priority in the hours and days to come.

Anaya entered the ward room last, her utilities covered with smudges, her hair in a loose, slightly frayed pony tail. She gave a nod to all those present before moving toward an empty seat near Brooke. "Seat taken, Commander?" she asked.

“It’s all yours.” -Brooke replied with a cheery smile

Pierce watched as his crew assembled and said nothing. Bonds were already being formed and dynamics between the staff were being established. He figured this type of cohesion would have taken months, but conflict and stress seemed to often forge relationships more quickly.

"Let's get started then, shall we?" Max said with smirk. He brought the Koparaan data stream up on the big screen. "Let's see what these people are all about."

The screen crackled to life. A humanoid male appeared on the screen. He was nearly entirely human in appearance, save a slightly smaller frame, uniquely pale skin, and eyes that had a hint of reflectivity. He appeared to be on the bridge of a ship. When he spoke, there was a slight musicality to his voice. "Welcome Nomad to the sovereign Koparaan territories. We have received your formal request for aid and have dispatched repair teams to rendezvous and assist you in any way we can." He paused as a woman appeared by his side. She was even smaller in stature, barely eclipsing five feet in height. Then three more men and women flanked him. All of the men were identical to each other, as were the women. "I am Prefect Rhine. We are the Koparaans. We are your friends."

Rhine flashed a smile as the image abruptly dissipated. It left Max feeling uneasy. A plethora of information flittered across the screen. Max could make out maps, structures, star charts, DNA sequences, and what appeared to be historical texts. Then the screen turned off for good.

As Rhine’s face disappeared from the screen, Kiay noticed a very similar, smile appear on Dynehart’s face. It unsettled him for an instant. The half Risan was usually spot on when it came to reading people, but over the last couple of days, the commander had become more and more harder to read.

"I guess that's what passes for a 'hello' around these parts," Pierce said flatly. He drummed his fingers on the table before sitting back in his chair. "Right then, let's get to work breaking this intel down. Thoughts?"

Mira was excitedly going through the packet of information on her own PADD, albeit at a slower rate. She had a second PADD open as well, seeming to correlate data with the information they had just received from the Koparaans. "This actually confirms quite a bit of what we've garnered about this section of space through our interactions in the Inconnu Expanse. There doesn't seem to be anything in here about the Koparaan's relationship to the Hazstadt League, though...actually, nothing in here about the League at all," Mira added with a frown. "Not that we can't be happy with what we've received about the Koparaan's own history, of course, but---"

Lieutenant Chamling politely but firmly cut the anthropologist's excited ramblings off. "Is their technological level such that they can be of assistance to us, Ensign Evans?"

"Oh, absolutely," Mira replied, not seeming to mind or notice the Chief Engineer's brusque interruption. "Well, at least at I think so. Indirect observation, including a deep space probe that transited this area recently to its destination, place the level of warp technology possessed by the Koparaans, as well as the other denizens of this region of space, as being roughly equivalent to what our own Federation possessed at its founding. Supposedly, some biotechnology available at Taxhalian trading outposts in the Inconnu Expanse is of Kopaaran origin, which would place at least some of their medical technology on par with our own. Oh," Mira said, interrupting herself, "It would probably be best not to take undue notice that they're clones."

"Cloning would probably explain in part how their race managed to survive a planet-wide catastrophe." Ian suggested, calling up the packet data on his own PaDD. "Not a biologist or medical officer here, but does this packet contain archival data of their race going back to before their star began going through stellar Alzheimer's? Something that might give us a little more insight into the Kopaarans?" The soft, squishy sciences were not his thing, but a deep vein of scientific inquiry ran through Ian, as well as a sense of morbid curiosity.

Grace surveyed the data, “I concur with Mr. Murphy.”

Scrutinising the PaDD, she noticed several markers that would indicate that the Koparaans have employed cloning as a means of surviving the deadly radiation that has swept through the system since it’s star started the slow decay into nova.

“As long as the shields hold, we should be ok, my only concern is that if they fail, the crew will only be able to withstand the effects of the radiation for just over a week, any longer than that, then the crew will start suffering from microcellular breakdown.” -Grace warned

“Anaya, can we repair the ship in time?” -asked Brooke, looking up from her PaDD momentarily.

"Absolutely," Anaya answered, without a trace of doubt in her voice. "Especially if the Koparaans have reached the point in their scientific development where they've addressed the Flux Paradox. It'll make things easier in using their help without having to pussyfoot around too much because of the Prime Directive. If Ensign Evans is correct in her assessment, the Koparaans' technology might still be two and a half centuries behind us, but they will have reached significant watershed moments in their development, such as the introduction of transtator technology."

“What was all that information that flashed across the screen before it went dead?” -Kiay asked Mira. “Can you replay it?”

"Hmmm?" Mira said, momentarily lost in her "surfing" of the information the Koparaans had sent the Nomad. "Oh, I'm sorry. No idea why the computer did that." The anthropologist made a few entries into her PADD and one of the 'pages' that had briefly appeared in the initial transmission filled up the common viewing screen. The page in question was filled with two columns of strange markings, both of which were possibly two different alien languages.

"Now this is a sort of Rosetta stone," Mira began, the excitement in her voice very obvious. "The 'writing' on the right is a variation of Taxhalian, while the right is the Koparaan's native language. Prefect Rhine was addressing us in Taxhalian, which is why there was no delay in it being processed by the Universal Translator. However, I believe that Taxhalian is not truly the native language of the Taxhal, but rather a 'commerce language', similar in nature to Urdu or Latin on Earth, or..."

"This is all very interestng, Ensign," Anaya interrupted, "But there are more pressing questions. Ensign Murphy's, for example, on the impact on Koparaan society by their star's decay and the subsequent necessity for cloning."

"Ah, yes, well," Mira began, shifting mental gears, "I would have to have more than a few hours to thoroughly review the information provided to us by the Koparaans, but from the little we have heard about them from the denizens and traffickers of the Inconnu Expanse, the Koparaans are viewed by their neighbors in the sane way the Dalit on the Indian subcontinent were looked upon, prior to Earth's unification. The Koparaans are viewed as 'untouchables.' I suspect that if were not for the position of their planet in the Barrens, as well as their advanced biotechnology, the Koparaans' situation would be less tenable than I've heard it to be." Miran tapped her PADD as she added, "But I'll have a more complete answer once I've reviewed the data packet they've sent us."

"Alright, I see that I am going to be called upon to be the designated cynic in the room." Ian said with a melodramatic sigh. "The data we're seeing suggests that the Koparaans are a society that is in as dire a set of circumstances as this ship is, possibly worse. Could be wrong, but that's my immediate take. Because we are in a dire situation, we aren't exactly in a position to lend aid to others, and likely won't be until our ship has been repaired, nor could we fight off anyone who wanted to take advantage of us." He looked around the room and at Mira in particular. "So, looking this gift horse right in the mouth, the most important question on the table is, is this gift horse a mare of Diomedes?" he asked, his hand moving to stroke a small lump under the front zipper of his uniform jacket.

"Based on the evidence available to us, and pardon me for stepping on anyone's toes here, I think the risk of accepting the Koparaans help is justified." -Brooke remarked.

"And it's not like we have any other options," Anaya opined.

It was clear that the crew were just blindly walking into the unknown here. They were getting ready, prepared for what awaited them.

"Having said that." -Grace chipped in, "we need to ensure the safety of the crew. I cannot under estimate the dangers of prolonged exposure to the radiation." -she warned, her tone clearly conveying the severity of the situation. "We have three days here tops."

Christopher took onboard all that had been said. The crew were clearly proficient in their duties and their dedication.

"Mr. Murphy. Your cynicism is justified. Doctor Shaw, do whatever you can to ensure the crew's exposure is limited, that goes for you too Anaya, I want to ensure that we get in and get out as quickly as possible, ensure that the majority of the repairs are completed before arrival." -the commander was direct, sharp and blunt with his orders. He knew it would ruffle a few feathers, but he didn't care.

"Starfleet thinks we're expendable, let's make sure we don't justify their beliefs...

"Commander, if I might add something?" Ensign Evans asked.

“Of course, go ahead Ensign.” -Dynehart replied.

"Granted, a good deal of my information concerning the Koparaans is second and third hand," Mira began, "but I believe a good deal of what I know has been confirmed, not only by what the Koparaans have told us, but what they haven't told us. For example, there is no mention in the data pack they sent us of their neighbors, either the ones that operate in the Inconnu Expanse, or the ones that we've only had heard rumors about. For example, the Koparaans have an association status with a group of civilizations called the Hazstadt League. Now, the Hazstadt League most resembles Earth's---"

"Perhaps if you could get to the point, Ensign?" Anaya interrupted.

"Yes, of course," Mira said with a nod. "From what I understand, the Koparaans are not held in high regard by their neighbors. For some reasons, most humanoids, regardless of their origin, have a predisposition to dislike cultures where cloning is the predominant method of reproduction. The Koparaans, though, have always had the advantage of both their medical technology and their unique location as an 'oasis,' if you will, for trading ships needing to traverse the barrens. Lieutenant Chamling, would the Barrens represent an obstacle if the Nomad were undamaged?"

Anaya shood her head. "If I can repair the engines where they could do at least Warp 5, we wouldn't be in a critical situation."

"And from all reports," Mira continued, "The warp capable civilizations in this area are achieving, or have achieved, Warp 5 capability. Which means they can traverse the Barrens without the assistance of the Koparaans. And trade with civilizations for advanced biotechnology equal to that of the Koparaans. So all the reasons that their neighbors have had in the past of treating the Koparaans with even the minimum of civility are disappearing."

Focusing her attention on the Captain and the First Officer, Mira concluded, "All of this makes me believe the Koparaans don't have our best interests at heart. Or, to quote the poet Virgil, Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes: I fear the Greeks, even those bearing gifts."

Pierce weighed all that had been bantered about. The theories and assessments all seemed sound and with merit. It was Evans' last remark that cut to his core. He didn't want to believe that his initial first contact in the sector could be a hostile one, but he would make sure that all contingencies would be planned.

With that, Max began breaking his team into smaller workgroups. "Doctor Shaw and Ensign Murphy, I'd like the two of you to dig into the nature of the Koparaans' cloning. While it may be their strength in surviving a calamity on their world, perhaps there's something in their genetic structure that could be our upper hand. I'd rather resolve any potential conflict peacefully, but we may have to have another approach ready."

"Or potential leverage." Ian suggested in turn, sending out some memos to his staff biologists, along with access to the Koparaan data packet. Cloning was notorious for being a process that caused genetic and cellular degradation with each successive generation of clones. Maybe there was some form pf aid that the Nomad could offer the Koparaans to cinch their potential friendship; smething that wouldn't violate the Prime Commandment. "I'll get my department on it."

"Commander Niamh; I'd like you to team with Ensign Evans in order to create some sort of 'routine' vetting process which would allow us to gather as much first-hand information on the Koparaans once they arrive. Whatever you devise, it should appear to be completely ordinary in scope."

Mira nodded thoughtfully, her brow furrowed as she considered how to go about this. Obviously, the process would have to be adapted for each potential encounter. Or in the argot of Earth's commercial class more than three and half centuries ago, 'one size wouldn't fit all.'

Brooke smiled brightly, she'd been looking forward to working with Mira, "Looking forward to it." -she spoke, nodding at Mira.

Max turned to his command staff with a nod. "CJ, I'd like you to sync up with Roebuck and his security team to coordinate escorts for the repair teams and arrange for a delegate visit for Prefect Rhine and his associates."

Chris rolled his eyes and almost looked as though he was stopping himself from yawning. He didn't reply to Pierce, he simply nodded in acknowledgment.

Kiay sat uncomfortably in his chair, "Is there anything I can help with?" -he awkwardly asked, wondering just exactly why he'd been called to the meeting.

Dynehart didn't say a word, Brooke picked up on the first officer's strange attitude, as did Grace. "You can join me and Ensign Evans here, we could use your help." -Brooke replied to Kiay, picking up the awkwardness that had descended on the room.

Thankfully, Max continued, "Anaya, since we can't say for certain how much help we'll be receiving, I'd like you and the engineers to plan for a worst-case scenario. However, if things work out and all this hesitation is for not, I'd like you and your team to think big picture and plan for an extended stay in the region. If the Koparaans are to be trusted allies, let's try and get a handle on their technological capabilities and see how we can partner and barter moving forward."

"Absolutely, Captain," Anaya replied. "We'll plan for all contingencies."

 

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