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Hopefully Enlightening

Posted on Sunday June 5, 2022 @ 8:16am by Ewo’tOst Merrova [GM] & M'Riz & Madeleine De Saint Castine & Alice Durant

Mission: Trouble on Carina VII
Location: Crew Lounge Area
Timeline: Current

Having issued a communication for away teams to reconvene in the crew room for an update briefing, which Ewo had purposely set thirty minutes later, giving her enough time to nip down to engineering run the obligatory systems diagnostic, receive and assimilate the results and make it back to the crew room. As much as she enjoyed being busy, a permanent Ops officer was becoming more and more appealing, but that would have to wait. She pace inside the crew lounge, and made straight for the large table placed a short distance from the kitchen, acknowledging Alice who had clearly been busy. “I see you located the area, what do you think of the set up?”

"It's not bad!" Alice announced as she wiggled the oven mitt onto her hand and opened up the baking area, smiling warmly as she pulled out a a muffin tin filled with twelve puffy objects, smelling of a hint of strawberry, "Strawberry muffins with a hint of orange flavoring to them." She grinned, carefully setting the tin on a safe place, "I hope that everyone will enjoy them, because I did enjoy making them!"

Seating herself at the table, which had become the most multipurpose of multipurpose tables, Ewo sniffed appreciatively as the oven opened. "An exquisite smell to enter a room too. I think you will do quite well here. There is a definite liking for the sweeter food items." She reassured, keeping a careful eye on where the tray was, familiar with cooling times, she hoped to judge the right time to slide over and liberate one for herself.

Maddie walked into the room, an almost dreamlike expression on her face as she drifted toward the fresh muffins. With little to no regard for the timing, she grabbed one from the tray, almost immediately realising the error in her ways. "Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!" she started tossing the muffin from hand to hand before placing it on the table and sliding into the seat, still ignoring the heat as she started to peel the case away, plucking off a bit of still warm muffin and popping it into her mouth. "Mmmmmmm.... Ow! Hot! Mmmm..."

From here seat Ewo watched and smiled at Maddie’s entrance. “A note of approval that’s good. I got here in time to see them come out of the oven, not my efforts this time, courtesy of our newest arrival.” Gesturing between the two officers. “Madeline meet Alice, our science officer. Alice, Madeline our medical officer.” Pausing to allow for an initial exchange between the two, Ewo followed up with Maddie. “How were things on the surface, hopefully enlightening?”

"I think we've already made something of an acquaintance." Alice beamed as she slid into a seat at the table, the fact that the newcomer was enjoying the muffin even at the expense of possibly burning herself, "Good to meet you, Madeline, if you like them, I'll bring more when we have to sit down for my onboarding physical. That way you might go easy on me?" She brushed a few strands of her streak of white hair out of her eyes.

M'Riz had come in right behind Maddie. Leaning over to Alice, he said, "Just so you know, our esteemed Dr. Castine is very easily bribed by goodies." He gave Alice a conspiratorial wink before holding out a hand. "Nice to officially meet you. I'm M'Riz. Welcome on board."

Alice instantly reached out to shake his hand... Paw? It was certainly a combination of the two, which was intriguing, though she'd met a Caitian or two in the past, it was mostly in passing. "Alice Durant, new Science geek, and I'm more than willing to bake plenty of bribes, I mean snacks, to keep in everyone's good graces." She grinned at him, "Especially if anyone has any preferences on what they'd like?"

"No particular preferences here," M'Riz replied.

Ewo smiled at the existing crew interacting with their newest addition, as she had come to expect they were welcoming and inclusive, which boaded well for things to come. She rose and stopped over to the tray keen to sample the cake creation, noting Dr Bacus and Trinity arrive. "Apologies boss, the last couple of results took a bit of time." He explained before taking a seat at the table. Having just taken a bite Ewo made a few very smiley and appreciative gestures towards Alice, as she crossed back to her seat. "Gorgeous treat Alice, thank you." Her mouth finally clear enough to speak. "Now to the matter at hand, this will have to serve as your briefing Alice, my apologies. The colony on Carina VII reported sudden and immediate and very isolated crop failures, what they didn't report officially and we found out by proxie were cases of drastic and sudden aging, again the cases were isolated." Turning her attention towards Bacus and Anderson first. "From you comments about obtain results, would it be safe to assume they were of sample analysis?"

"Yes, yes they were. Myself, Trinity, and a very cooperative host by the name of Cathy Magnasun obtained a number of samples from distinct areas." Dr Bacus began eagerly but rather thoroughly. "On learning that the planet possesses unique geological attributes my initial theory was that these were being interfered with by directed energy discharges, causing isolated reversals, having tested several dozen possibilities, unfortunately we drew a blank."

He paused, before adding a hopeful spin. "We can however say with a degree of certainty the changes were not the result of directed energy, perhaps the other team can corroborate this?" Ewo nodded along trying to pick out the key points, at least one cause was off the table. She look across to M'Riz and Maddie at this point motioning for either of them to jump in.

Maddie shook her head slightly. "I want to sit down and compare all the information we have at hand. Abel tried to send some data through to the ship for me, do you happen to know if it arrived intact?" she asked hopefully, leaving it unclear exactly who she was addressing as she reached for a second muffin, tossing it hand to hand before dropping it on the table in front of her. "I have a feeling that what ever is happening down on the surface may not be entirely accidental," she added, breaking part of the muffin off and popping it in her mouth before standing up and heading to the replicator, ordering herself a chocolate milkshake with extra whipped cream and cherries to go with the muffins.

Alice watched with jealous eyes at the milkshake, wondering if and when she’d be able to get up politely to fetch one of her own, “I was here when you guys got here, but they denied my request to go down to the surface to breath some uncanned air. They stuck me up on the transshipment platform while you were all on your way. Fed me MREs as well, said their replicators were on the fritz.”

"Does anyone else want anything?" Maddie asked before leaving the replicator, turning to look around at gathered crew.

"Nothing for me," M'Riz said.

A tea please, just say Merrova’s usual.” She asked with a smile, which flicked to a frown as Alice elaborated of her time on the orbital, it seemed more and more like there was a little too much care and concern about what her teams were seeing and not seeing.

"I'd love one of those." Alice had hemmed and hawed about taking Maddie up on the offer, but pointed at her milkshake as well, "Won't be good for the figure, but they certainly taste great! Besides, after I come see you for my onboarding physical, I'm sure you'll say I need fewer of them."

Taking the opportunity to snaffle a muffin, which she placed delicately and carefully beside the steaming teacup, she turned her attention to the query about a data transfer. “Their was a transfer from the surface earlier, which came through fine, I sent them across to the medical database. Not before having a flick through myself, I understood the some of the basics but most of it is going to need explaining.” She admitted with a slight grin.

"I do have to agree with the idea that what's going on may not be entirely accidental," M'Riz added. "It may not be intended, of the malicious type, but I get the feeling that it may have been something that was originally intended but that somehow got out of hand, a planned experiment gone wrong somehow."

Having returned to the table, Maddie sat down, the milk shake in front of her. First she picked up the cherry and bit it off the stem, chewing on it slowly as she swirled the straw through the milkshake, slowly mixing in the whipped cream. With her free hand she broke off a piece of the muffin, leaving it on the table and holding her thumb over the top of the straw, trapping the liquid within before letting it slowly drip over the porous muffin piece, watching as the liquid was almost immediately absorbed before picking up the muffin piece and popping it in her mouth, chewing on the now almost soggy mixture.

As she broke off another piece of muffin, again holding her thumb over the straw to trap the milkshake liquid, she watched once more as the liquid was almost immediately absorbed by the muffin. Dropping the straw, she looked up at Ewo, her eyes widening with surprise. "The original surveys of the planet," she said suddenly. "They were all redacted. We need to run a scan on the planetary surface. Look specifically for heavy calcium deposits!" she exclaimed. "I can't believe I didn't see it before!"

Ewo was in between sips, and paused with her cup at the half way point, when Maddie fixed her as she had her realization. It was a moment that never got old, seeing someone make connections. She was also very happy about the ships interconnectivity and equipment levels at this point, placing the cup down carefully. “That can be done, computer access the lateral sensor pallets, begin sub-surface scan filter for heavy calcium deposits. Any preference on starting point?”

"Likely not anywhere close to the colony," Maddie mused, breaking another piece off the muffin. "If we can find the calcium deposits, I want to go back down to the surface and get some samples. Is there any way we can do that undetected?" she asked. "I have a feeling that if they suspect we know something more than nothing, the vague extension of hospitality we've had so far will be even more redacted than their reports."

“Computer focus on Southern Hemisphere, display real-time data through crew area table display.” Ewo added, before falling silent, and finally taking a moment to sample the muffin that sat on the table, it had cooled somewhat, but the berry’s still held a little warmth. The data started to flood in, she always enjoyed watching data slices layer over each other as a scan progresses, forgetting herself and her place for the moment she just watched ignorant of her surroundings, until a picture began to emerge. “Now that is a huge amount of noise . Is this the deposits your looking for?” Ewo queried with a gesture between Maddie and the display that could be seen as a wave. “Getting down undetected I completely agree with, from what you all have said there is more going on than sparing blushes. Masking a transporter signature is an option that springs to mind. I am open to suggestions..” Ewo affirmed, rapidly coming to the conclusion someone was violating federation policy or agreements or laws, something that would have to be stopped, still with the mindset her command was temporary, a whatever it takes mentality seemed valid, did she really have anything to lose.

Alice raised a hand with something of an idea, "What would the viability of beaming down a few kilometers away from where we want to go? I'm sure they've got an eye out on the centers of the activity they're trying to hide, just in case, but if we trek across the land a couple hours out, they might not even notice what we're doing?"

Maddie shook her head. "A walk that far is too risky," she replied. "It gives them far too long to realise what is going on and intercept us. They're already suspicious of our motives and our presence, I have a feeling they'll be watching us closely." She paused, running a finger across the top of the milkshake and scooping up some cream, popping it into her mouth. If we're going to transport down, we'd need to transport down as close as possible, grab the scans we need as quick as possible, and get out of there as quick as possible. No strolling in the woods and enjoying the scenery."

Okay let’s make it a team of three. Maddie, Trinity, and Alice let’s get you into the swing of things, the three of you gather samples.” Ewo stated, now having decided the make up of at least one of the teams. “To make sure you have a little longer to work, we are going to wrong foot them a little, sending a decoy to a site we have previously visited going through a receiving of of their own transport network. Give the impression we are being very cooperative and going in circles.” She stated with a very wide grin, relishing both the technical challenge and the risk of the venture. “MRiz care to join me in a little decoy turned fact finding operation. If they come and find us great, if not we go to the administration complex, speaks to that Dargan’s boss, find out if it is them pulling the strings or someone else,” Fixing the four civilian scientists also in attendance, she felt it important to ensure nothing had been missed, another look at this junction would be important. “Those remaining, fresh eyes on the data already gathered, you know how things work, have a look for connections, cause and effect that sort of thing.” Casting a general glance around, placing both hands on the table, palms up, she opened the floor back up, for final suggestions or cautions from the crew. “Anyone have anything to add?”

"Find Abel," Maddie looked across at Ewo as she reached for her third muffin. "If possible, bring him back to the ship? I am concerned for his safety as long as he's on the surface," she said quietly.

"I agree," M'Riz said. "I get the feeling he's probably told us more than he should have, and there are those who may not be appreciative of that."

Ewo nodded slowly and carefully, picking out the one fall back Starfleet had to protect those who needed such protection. "He has been one of the few helpful persons so far, it would be only fair to extend him the offer of protection and asylum." She agreed, going on to add. "On the subject of protection, I will program the transporter so a double tap on any comm, will activate a beam out for them and of all Starfleet comm devices in a twenty meter radius. Just in case."

First day in and already right in the middle of things? Alice knew right then and there that she'd never truly be bored here on Cardinal, nor be left out of anything exciting. Just the way she liked it. "Any chance we could get a sample of their harvest? Might not hurt to have it analyzed."

"Ma'am....." Dr Bacus started, paused because of being unsure of how to address the new Science chief, before continuing. "We have a number of samples all ready collected, six in total, four have been used for analysis, two are still use able. I can forward you a copy of our results,..or...or you can perform your own." He flashed her a nervous smile. "It's up to you."

"It wouldn't hurt to try and get our own fresh samples if at all possible," Maddie said quietly. "My gut just tells me that anything we're willingly given is not likely to be helpful, or even remotely accurate." She paused, breaking off another piece of the new muffin. "Any chance our transporters could target crops?" she asked hopefully.

"A direct comparison between two sets of samples would pick up on interference, very fair point" Ewo responded slowly, checking her own rush towards a conclusion, and glad she had people around that would voice their concerns freely, for a moment she glanced across at Alice hoping her previous response hadn't come across as dismissive . "As far as the transporting crops goes, yes, with some modifications. in fact the cargo transporter might be better suited." She considered ,her thoughts natural turning to solve the technical challenge, but that could wait. "Anything else that might be relevant however minor you may consider it, please speak before we go to work."

"We should work quickly," M'Riz said. "I get the feeling that there are those in the colony who really do not want us here, and I fear as to what lengths they might go to in order to keep us from finding out what is going on around here."

"On that note. Let's get to work." Ewo stated with a note of finality, ending the meeting.


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