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Origins

Posted on 02 Jun 2016 @ 12:38am by Lieutenant Commander Temerant Bast & Lieutenant Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant Parisa Rykov DCS & Lieutenant JG Charles Carmichael

Mission: Outbreak
Timeline: MD 10 - 11

Camila looked at her terminal as it notified her of an incoming message and entered her access code to see what emergency had popped up. Medical had given the all clear on the probe and had transferred it to an engineering lab, she saw and promptly shut down the terminal and turned things over to the duty officer. She tapped her combadge as she left the office and headed to the turbolift.

=^=Lieutenant Bast, Lieutenant Carmichael and Doctor Rykov, please meet me in Engineering Lab Four. Di Pasquale out=^=

It was a short trip to Engineering and she inquired directions of a crewman to the lab before she headed there to where the now safe Class Two probe sat and waited for the crew of the Black Hawk to unravel its mysteries.

Lieutenant Carmichael had been plugging away in the Astrometrics lab, taking advantage of the Black Hawk's extended assignment to run several scans of the Yolvanda System. Already he'd learned more about the system than what the star charts had to offer and had begun to enter the findings into the official records when the call came from the ship's Chief of Security. It surprised Charles that he'd been summoned to meet with several senior officers, and perhaps it was for a good reason.

It didn't make him any less nervous however. He picked up a tricorder and a PADD and departed Astrometrics. He wasn't sure if he'd need them, but it was better to be prepared than not. Before long, Charles had arrived at Lab Four. "Lieutenant," he greeted nervously.

"Thank you for coming so promptly, Lieutenant Carmichael," Camila said as she indicated the probe. "We need to completely break down and track the origin of this probe. It is the instrument which delivered the virus to Yolvanda II."

"It..." Charles' voice trailed off as he spotted the charred Starfleet markings on the very obvious Class Two probe. "T-T-This did it? This made us sick?"

"Relax, Lieutenant," Camila said. "Medical has cleared it. It was found on Yolvanda II by a Paradan who got sick first, but had sense of mind to put it in a containment field."

"Oh. Well. Yeah," Charles stammered. "That makes me feel better." His tone was naturally laced with sarcasm. "Well, I can extract the telemetry from the on board recorder. I-I-I just don't know how to get it out. Or where it is."

* * *

Bast walked out of the medical lab, feeling exhausted from the previous few days' events. Being used as a lab rat to produce the antibodies required to treat the crew had taken its toll, and drained him of his energy and stamina. He needed a few hours' sleep, but Camila's summons meant that sleep would have to wait. Just the sound of her voice sent a rush of endorphins through his body, and he picked up his pace on his way to the turbolift.

He entered the Engineering lab, and immediately walked over to Camila, who was standing near one of the consoles. He resisted the urge to wrap his arms around her when he saw Carmichael in the room.

"Reporting as ordered," he said softly to her, with a lopsided smile.

"Thank you for coming, Te...Lieutenant Bast," Camila corrected herself as she remembered that Carmichael was in the room with them. "We have the Class Two probe which delivered the virus to Yolvanda II and we need to get inside of it and determine where it came from. Before you ask.." she glanced at Carmichael who seemed to be trying to get as far from it as possible. "It's been cleared by Medical."

Charles froze. He had been ever so slightly backing away from the probe. Somehow, he'd managed to avoid getting sick, and after seeing what had happened to the rest of the crew, he definitely didn't want to experience that first hand.

Bast flipped open his tricorder, and turned to the probe. Knowing he was immune to the virus did little to reassure him as he approached the device, but he bit back his concerns and focused on the readings. "Standard-issue Class Two probe," he said. "The access ports have been sealed shut by what looks like phaser fire."

"That's great," Charles commented. "I'm sure when it impacted on the planet's surface... we'll find some internal damage as well. Hopefully that telemetry recorder is intact."

"I wouldn't bet on it," replied Bast. "If whoever programmed it was smart, they also programmed it with a virus that would wipe the flight recorder's memory before it hit the surface."

Camila pulled up specifications for a Class Two probe at the terminal. "These things only have a range of four hundred thousand kilometers," she said. "They have fifteen thousand six hundred and fifty channels at twenty megawatts. Vectored deuterium micro-fusion engine and full EM/Subspace and interstellar chemistry pallet for in-space applications. We should be able to make some determinations on the origin even if we can't get access to the telemetry readings."

Bast nodded, and showed his tricorder screen to Carmichael. "Look at these residual isotope readings on the casing. Any idea how long it would have been on the surface before it was discovered?"

Carmichael cautious approached Bast by the probe, somewhat impressed by the Trill's willingness to stand so close to the device. "Doesn't look like long," he remarked. "Maybe a day or two. I wonder which ships were close by to the system that could have launched this."

Camila paused as she tapped the terminal, then looked at them. "According to the briefing the Captain gave us, the Chimera and the Cochrane are the two ships that were closest and could have fired it," she said. "We need the telemetry and flight recorder from this thing."

"I'm not too familiar with the Class Twos," Charles confessed, lifting his PADD in order to call up some specifications on it. "But all Starfleet probes are remote controllable. Maybe we can try the remote access while we start prying it apart." His eyes wandered to the welds the hand phaser left behind.

Lieutenant Rykov had received the summons to report to Main Engineering, a place that she usually was, but was otherwise busy elsewhere performing her duties. Needless to say, when she finally arrived in Engineering, she found herself in the middle of a discussion that had begun without her and by people that were not her engineers.

"I knew my last report said I was short handed down here, but I did not suspect them to send you lot down here to assist me" she said slyly with a smirk as she walked around the officers with a hot mug of cardamom tea in hand. "What the hell are you doing in my domain?" she asked sharply after taking a sip of her tea.

Camila looked up when Rykov came in. "We're trying to determine which ship this Class Two probe came from," she said. "It is the probe that was used to deliver the virus to Yolvanda II. If you would care to join us, we can get that taken care of and see who was behind it."

Rykov nodded and let out a small sigh. "Sorry for my delay. I swear if we don't get some more qualified Engineers aboard soon..." she said shaking her head. "Excuse me from being out of the loop on finer details. I take we have no markings or anything to easily identify it. Have we been able to narrow our suspect list?"

Camila moved so Rykov could see the Starfleet markings on the side of the probe. "It's either from the Chimera or the Cochrane. It has phaser burns on it as well as residual isotope readings."

"Starship classes of the Chimera and the Cochrane?" asked Rykov as she examined the sides of the probe.

"They're both Intrepid class," Camila said. "The range of a Type Two probe is only four hundred thousand kilometers."

Rykov glared at Camila. "I am well aware of the range of a Type Two probe, Lieutenant" said the Chief Engineer somewhat bitterly. She did find that her tone was sharper than she had intended. "Sorry. Krampus is still sick and I'm worried" she said softer.

She looked at Camilla curiously. "Have you scanned for any anomalies on the probe. Anything that may help determine the starship of origin?" asked Rykov.

"Nothing in depth," Camila said. "We've been discussing how to get the telemetry readings and flight recorder prior to your arrival. I'm sorry to hear about your feline."

"Your best bet with telemetry may be through process of elimination and extrapolation" said the Chief Engineer. "Both of these suspect starship being of the same class will not make matters easy. How about any distinguishing factors about the probe itself. Can we tell what year it was manufactured?"

"Serial number's been scratched off," Charles commented. While the Chiefs of Security and Engineering had been talking, Charles had braved a close look at the probe, where he found the serial number had indeed been removed. "And the remote access capabilities are out." He pointed to the fried transceiver. "We're going to have to get inside this thing."

Bast looked up from his tricorder. "The serial number wasn't just scratched off, it was removed on a molecular level. There's no compression of the underlying layers to allow us to reconstitute it." He pressed a few keys on his tricorder to change settings. "I'm not reading any DNA traces that aren't native to Yolvanda, or to the virus. Looks like it was thoroughly cleaned before launch, so we have no hope of trying to determine its origin that way."

He changed settings on the tricorder again. "I'm not detecting any booby traps on the casing. I think it's safe to peek inside."

Carmichael looked up to both Rykov and Bast. He was not only the lowest ranked individual in the room, but opening sealed probes was certainly not in his skill set. The best he'd be able to do would be decipher the telemetry records, assuming this probe had some. "Let's... uh... let's get to it."

Bast picked up a laser welder, and took aim at the access port that had been phaser-welded. After a few minutes, the air in the room was filled with the acrid smell of the ionization caused by the phaser fire, and a thin haze of fumes filled the room, as the ventilation system struggled to compensate. He finally finished creating the opening, and removed the panel, giving Carmichael access to the probe's computer systems.

"Oh that is disgusting!" Carmichael nervously stuck his hand inside the probe where burnt electronics floated in goo that formerly carried the original virus which still plagued Yolvanda II. His desire to get away from the probe as quickly as possible enabled Charles to rip out the telemetry recorder and withdraw.

It too had been sealed. "Looks like we'll need your expertise a bit more," Charles commented, taking the recorder to a nearby free table where a isolinear chip rack awaited the chips from the probe.

Rykov shook her head as Carmichael reached into the goo. "Analyze the goo, I want to know more about the insides that probe. It is possible we can find something on the insides that can help determine the ship of origin" offered Rykov. "Also do a scan of DNA inside the shell. It's possible when someone was putting that probe together, they may have left some DNA behind."

Bast pulled out the tricorder wand, and ran it closer to the goo to increase the sensor's sensitivity. After a few seconds, he shook his head. "No such luck," he said. "The goo is a mix of cellular resin, a sort of vegetal gelatin." He changed settings and continued scanning. "I'm also detecting traces of a mineral lubricant."

He closed the tricorder. "No DNA traces whatsoever. The mineral lubricant could be coming from a mechanical piece of equipment that they used to put the probe together. A robotic arm, maybe. But I'm not picking up anything to indicate that someone physically put their hands in this."

Camila retrieved a vacuum wand and came to begin collecting the gel that the virus had been contained it so they could get a good look inside of it. "Now that we have that gunk out of the way, we can start to dismantle the probe and determine if there's anything they missed. There's no way that someone could have completely wiped every component clean before sending it on the way."

"I wouldn't put anything beyond the Consortium's abilities," replied Bast.

Charles managed to open the element he withdrew from the probe. As anticipated, the chips had been scarred by a burn, likely a timed explosive that was meant to destroy the recorder. Fortunately, the damage seemed to only be superficial, leaving Charles to place the chips into the reader. It didn't take any effort at all to access the information, though some of it was corrupted.

"Here we go," Charles muttered. "Looks like the probe was launched slightly beyond maximum range," he remarked, tracing the telemetry in the Yolvanda system. "Near Yolvanda III actually," Charles commented. It followed the orbit just a bit just to pick up enough speed to get it here unnoticed.

Camila went back to the terminal and accessed the sensors. "We know it's either the Chimera and the Cochrane that did this. They're the only two ships close enough." She accessed the probe compliment of both ships prior to the Consortium takeover and studied them for a minute. "I'm going to take a guess that it's from the Chimera based on their payload of probes, but we need proof. If you can access the inner core of the probe, there's serial numbers there which are indelible. That should tell us which ship it came from."

Rykov crossed her arms and waited to hear more. "I swear if I hear they laser removed or destroyed the serial number right off the inner core of the probe, I'm going to raise hell" said the Chief Engineer. "Cochrane or Chimera...that is the question."

Carmichael turned, halfway expecting the other three to ask him to reach inside the probe to retrieve the inner core. Two of the others were perfectly qualified, but Charles was certainly at the bottom of the totem pole. "What about cross referencing with New Risa's sensor network? Surely they picked up on something out by Yolvanda III."

Bast shook his head, dubious. "Their sensor network is pretty old," he said. "They haven't been updated since before the Dominion War. If they haven't been well-maintained, it's possible they might not record every single detail. And since both ships are Intrepid-class..."

He reached for a hydrospanner and nodded at Carmichael. "Charles, give me a hand in removing the computer core."

Damn, thought Charles as he moved over to help Bast. At least the poor science officer saw it coming. "Looks like some of the outer casing will have to go," he stated. "And if I remember the inner workings correctly, there should be an interface port so we don't have to extract the entire core."

"There is, for the flight navigation and sensor logs," replied Bast. "But if we want to search the interior for serial numbers, we have to take it apart and inspect everything visually."

And that's why Charles wasn't an engineer. He picked up a nearby spanner and began to unseal the casing. "At least the core will be easy to get to."

Within minutes, they had the outer casing stripped from the torpedo's frame, and were beginning to extract the computer core. The parts were slippery because of the gel that had filled the probe, and they were proceeding carefully in case there were any booby traps that the tricorder hadn't detected. Bast finally set the computer core down on a work bench, and connected it to one of the computers in the lab.

"Here you go Lieutenant," he said, looking at Carmichael. "Knock yourself out."

Charles could tell the serial numbers had been removed from the core's casing, and there appeared to be a lot of data degradation in the core memory as well. "This isn't suspicious at all," he muttered. Charles began running a few diagnostics, hoping to see what he could manage with basic recovery systems. He was not a computer engineer by any means. His skills laid with manipulating sensors and charting stars and studying planets. Working with those sensors had introduced some basic problem solving skills, but if heavy lifting was needed, then Lieutenants Bast or Rykov would have to step up to the plate.

Fortunately for Charles, the data looked more damaged than deleted. Sectors were certainly missing, but portions of the information was in fact readable.

"Looks like the serial number is gone," Charles reported as he dug into the small amount of files, just before finding the launch log. He pulled up the file to see plenty of missing sectors, but there was partial information on the ship. The ship's registry was missing, but part of the ship's name still existed. "U S S C H," Charles read aloud.

"Chimera" Camila uttered. "There's no other ship matching that in our choices."

"So..." Charles stammered, wondering about the true ramifications of this discovery. "What does that mean? Starfleet did this? Or the... the Consortium?"

Camila looked at Carmichael in disgust. "Who do you think, Lieutenant? It's not standard Starfleet policy to try to eradicate sentient populations on neutral planets. Is it?"

The terminal beeped, announcing it had pieced back together some of the data. Charles turned to check it, thankful to avoid the displeased look he'd just earned from the Chief of Security. The science officer examined the data and reported, "Looks like we have some of the programming here. According to this, this probe began to release a concentrated gas into the atmosphere roughly a kilometer from the ground and continued to release for minutes after impact." Sighing, he surmised, "It sounds like this probe was meant to be found. And the finder would be the first carrier for..." his voice trailed off, thinking about the people and crew that had already perished as a result of this virus.

"Which would have been Saduk, the Paradan who found the probe and was Patient Zero...or so we've been led to believe," Camila said, ignoring the rhetorical question she had asked him. "It has to be the Consortium and the Chimera is under their control."

Charles frowned. If the Consortium were willing to strike a planet, he could only fear what could come the longer they were allowed to remain in control of the quadrant.

Bast closed his tricorder and looked at his crewmates. "Gods only know how many other probes like this one the Chimera has in her arsenal. We need to find her and stop her before she can contaminate any other worlds."

Camila nodded. "I'll get this report to the Captain immediately and make certain that he's informed of all your help," she said as she briefly made eyed contact with Temerant before she recorded all the information to her tricorder. "Thank you for all that you've done." With that, she headed out of Engineering and directly to the bridge.

 

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