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After Action Report

Posted on Wed Nov 21st, 2018 @ 8:16pm by Captain Osegan Trenna & Ensign Geoff Martinsen & Lieutenant Commander Arthur Talbot & Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Batchelder & Ensign Nandi Chakma

Mission: Light is Dark
Timeline: MD 05 | 1120

Geoff landed the Patapsco on instinct. The team's discovery concerned him; he was in no hurry to get into a firefight. And especially with an unknown enemy....who knew what sort of weaponry they had. His mind raced about the possibilities of how the alien ship could ravage the Altai. So much so, that he forgot to power down the engines and open the hatch.

Jon waited patiently for the young ensign to get his head on straight, and open the hatch...for about 45 seconds. He knew that nerves would likely be running high, and looked down at his timepiece for another 15 seconds. At this point, nerves or not, they needed to leave the runabout. Jon turned toward the cockpit, and cleared his throat, announcing, "Ensign, I'm gonna need you to shut down the engines, open the hatch, and get your head in the game, please. I know your nerves are shaken, but we're going to need to go report this to the Captain. The four of us."

"Why can't we just tell her now?" Nandi asked. "She can put us on Yellow Alert. Or even Red Alert!"

Ixsåμ squawked in reply, but Nandi didn't bother translating.

"Sorry, Commander," Geoff answered, snapping to action. "Do you really need me in the meeting with the Captain?"

"Ostensibly, I suppose not," Jon responded, pensively. "But I'd like you there, since you observed what the rest of us did as well. In for a penny, as the old saying goes. If you don't want to be there, that's fine, I won't order you to come along."

Turning to Chakma and Ixsåμ, he continued, "You two, however, I am ordering to come along. I'm shit with sensor packet data."

"That's not uncommon," Nandi said with a sigh. It seemed this little jaunt wasn't over just yet. If Batchelder needed her help to sell the dire nature of the situation to the captain, then she would comply.

Twitching in a gesture that may have been a shoulder-less shrug, Ixsåμ clucked twice in clear assent.

Martinsen wanted to get up, but he wasn't keen on getting closer to the giant bird. He didn't generally have issues with other species, but his short time on the Altai had proven trying. A bear. A bird. He shuttered slightly at the thought of what might be next. A lion? A tiger? Oh my!, he exclaimed silently.

"I guess I'll go with you, Commander," Geoff said finally.

The one-eyed stare from Ixsåμ regarded Geoff with an unknowable measure. "Cuckaw!" he exclaimed.

Nandi scolded the bird man. "Ixsåμ!"

Without missing a beat, Ixsåμ crowed again, this time even louder.

"Ixsåμ, he is not trying to mate with you! Stop it right this instant!" Nandi grasped him behind his narrow back and ushered him toward the door. "I'm sorry, Ensign. He mistook the way you stared at him and gently shook your body as the initiation of courtship among his people. It... it is not the first time for that misunderstanding..."

She glanced through the open door. Ixsåμ stood out on the flight deck, stooped in a defensive half-crouch, awaiting further instructions.

"... but hopefully the last."

Resisting the urge to make a lovebird joke, Jon pulled his bag over his shoulder, and tapped his commbadge.

"Batchelder to Osegan: We've completed our scans and are ready to report. Where would you like us to meet you?"

"Conference room," came the Captain's reply.

His keen avian hearing set Ixsåμ running to the conference room.

"Ixsåμ!" Nandi called out before falling into a light trot in pursuit. "Wait for us!"

Ixsåμ beat everyone to the conference room by a mile. By the time Nandi made her way there, she found the bird man lapping up water with his rigid tongue from a replicated beverage dispenser.

"Chief Ixsåμ!" Nandi exclaimed. "You've embarrassed me in front of the senior staff! So help me, if you make a scene in front of Captain Osegan, then I'll... I'll... put a disciplinary recommendation in your file! Don't think I won't!"

Her threat went unanswered, though Ixsåμ stopped drinking and stood at attention.

Jon stepped into the conference room a few moments after the fracas, but couldn't help but notice that tension was a little high. Exhaling sharply, he ordered, "Take your seats, the Captain should be with us in a moment. Ixsåμ, queue up the sensor readouts while we're waiting."

After replicating himself a mug of coffee, he sat down at the table and turned to Chakma. "The Captain is probably going to ask for your suggestion, if my experience tells me anything. Given what information we have to go off of, are you ready to make a rational, tempered suggestion?"

Nandi nodded and winsomely intoned in the affirmative as she began to compile her notes.

The doors parted, admitting Osegan to the room. "What did you find Commander?" she asked of the Batchelder. In addition to being the Chief Engineer, the veteran officer was also the highest ranked person on the ship after herself and Talbot.

"Exactly what Ensign Chakma theorized we would, Captain," Batchelder stated in a very monotone voice. "A cloaked ship, lurking out in the rough. I'm not sure how much of it we got on sensors, if any, but we definitely detected it out there."

He looked to Chakma, and said, "The Ensign and the Chief can give you a better idea of what the sensor data shows."

The Chief Engineer's words landed solidly on her. They were being watched. "Osegan to Talbot, report to the Conference Room immediately," she called out. "Go ahead Ensign," Trenna encouraged, looking at the young scientist.

"But... aren't we waiting for Commander Talbot?" Nandi asked. Taking her cue from the two senior officers present, she chuckled nervously. "No? Right, then. We were performing our sensor sweeps, but Chief Ixsåμ was having difficulty filtering out the ambient radiation beyond a significant range."

Ixsåμ clucked in agreement. It had not been his finest hour.

"My initial plan was to lay a complex grid of sensor probes, but there was no telling how many it would take and whether or not they could be configured to provide any significant increase to our scans." Nandi tapped through her PADD to pull up the relevant files. "Then I had the thought to initiate a resonance pulse in six directions though the main deflector and the tractor emitters." She spared a soft smile for Jon. "Thanks to Commander Batchelder who set it up for us, we were able to depolarize the ambient radiation in all directions, which provided a snapshot of the area free from interference--including the alien vessel's cloak." Handing the PADD to Trenna, Nandi concluded her debriefing. "Once the sensors propagated with the new data, this is what we saw."

The PADD displayed an enhanced image of an unknown starship.

With a swoosh, the conference room doors opened, and Artie Talbot entered the conference room. He quickly surveyed the Captain, Chief Engineer, the bold ensign from earlier and... a bird... as he took the first vacant seat. Artie felt a strange sort of tension in the room, and he found himself thankful that he was not a Betazoid. "How'd it go?" he simply asked.

"They found something," Osegan replied, sliding the PADD across to Talbot. "Someone really." Her eyes watched her Executive Officer for his reaction.

Artie wasn't sure if he should be calm or nervous. Regardless, he could not stop his eyebrows from arching upward at the sight of the unknown vessel. "I see," he said calmly, passing the PADD back to the captain. "Do we have any idea how long they've been sitting there? And, could they have somehow been interfering with those probes we sent out yesterday, like they didn't want us to know that they were there?"

"I don't think we can extrapolate how long they've been sitting out there from these data," Jon replied. "But I'll leave it to the smarter people in the room to advise on that. I will say, in going over my notes, I'm confident that there's nothing wrong with our probes, and we were experiencing external interference. I'm not ready to say it was these unknown aliens, or even that it was with malicious intent if it was them. the absence of anything other explanation, there's a certain Occam and his razor that come to mind."

"What would it take to make such a determination?" Trenna asked. "To know if there was ill intent? I don't want to leap to, and act on, a conclusion."

Nandi thought for a moment. "Even if we moved to the opposite side of the pulsar, there would be no known method of separating artificial interference from the natural pulsar radiation. Unless!" Her eyes sparked with a thought. "Unless we modulated a phased ionic pulse that matched and reversed the exact frequency of their projection matrix! I suspect their cloak is derived from the same technology as whatever they're doing to jam our sensors. If we disable it, we could kill two birds with one stone!"

The protest in Ixsåμ's squawking needed no translation.

Artie's eyes instantly darted to the avian officer. The squawk had caught him totally off guard, and he was surprised the ship's translator had been less than prepared to handle the officer's speech. It would be something he'd have Batchelder look into that when time presented an opportunity.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Ixsåμ!" Nandi squealed, eyes wide in embarrassment. "Please forgive my insensitive choice of words. I meant no offense."

Ixsåμ glared at her but said no more.

"As I was saying, Captain," Nandi said, bashfully brushing her bangs back, "we may be able to disable their jammers. It may take some trial and error while we dial through the entire frequency band, though."

The Bajoran woman's eyes trained first on Batchelder, then on Talbot. "Thoughts?"

Jon let a moment of quiet contemplation go by before replying, "From our brief time together on the runabout, I've learned not to second-guess Ensign Chakma's instincts when it comes to this kind of thing. On spec, it sounds feasible, and I see no reason why it wouldn't work. I'd be slightly concerned that it could be considered an act of aggression, but that's a diplomatic issue, which is more your department, Captain."

"Why not try a direct approach?" Artie mused, looking towards the Captain. "Let's say they did tamper with the probes. Seems to me like they simply don't want to be found. Destroying the probes would imply someone is here. If they don't want to be detected, they might consider any act of ours to interfere with their equipment to be of hostile intent."

Nandi swallowed the lump in her throat as she prepared to disagree with the first officer. "With all due respect, Commander, but we have to do something. Either we disable their jamming device or we abandon our mission. If they attack us, then we can always flee at maximum warp." She gave in to a nervous shudder that showed just how distasteful she found either possibility.

Artie nodded at the ensign, understanding her viewpoint. He wasn't out there, and it seemed like the discovery of this vessel had spooked the away team. But, the executive officer wasn't yet convinced that they were dealing with someone hostile.

"The Ensign makes a good point, Captain," Jon piped in. "As does Commander Talbot. If push comes to shove, how important is this pulsar?"

She considered her options before speaking. "I'd like to avoid taking what could be perceived as an aggressive posture," Osegan stated. "Let's attempt to make contact with them, now that we know they're out there. Commander, take us to yellow alert. As a precaution."

Artie nodded, tapping his badge. "Talbot to bridge. Sound yellow alert." A verbal confirmation came back before the channel closed, followed by the status indicators shining yellow instantly in the conference room.

"Excuse me, sir," Geoff said, speaking up finally, "but what, exactly, are we doing?" He needed to know how afraid he should be. And of what.

Standing, Trenna answered the seemingly nervous pilot. "We're going to try hailing them," she explained. "Now that we know they're out there, we might as well try talking to them."

"Permission to prepare a phased ionic pulse," Nandi said timidly, "just in case?"

The Bajoran woman nodded. "But it's only a back-up option. We're trying to make peaceful contact, which is tough to do if they think we're attacking them." She looked around the room. "Anything else?"

"Nothing from my end," Jon replied, gathering his PADD.

With a sweep of her hand, Osegan dismissed the room. Once alone, she walked to one of the windows and stared out into space.

They weren't alone.


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