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And There Shall Be A Ship

Posted on Mon Dec 24th, 2018 @ 7:35pm by Captain Osegan Trenna & Ensign Geoff Martinsen & Lieutenant Commander Arthur Talbot & Lieutenant Evaad Hessen & Lieutenant JG Kemm Talu & Senior Chief Petty Officer Ryland Dedeker & Ensign Nandi Chakma

Mission: Light is Dark
Location: Bridge
Timeline: MD 05 | 1239

"Captain Osegan Trenna of the USS Altai. This is the Shipmaster of the Zynd'ra."

Geoff looked up as the words sounded in the Altai's bridge. He was surprised that the other ship had responded, even it was only audio. More surprising was that they decloaked, which he noticed on sensors, but the viewscreen was still displaying visuals on the pulsar. Should I alert the Captain or let Dedeker or the new guy? Maybe Kemm?, he wondered silently, knowing that someone would need to inform Osegan that the ship had actually decloaked.

Artie tensed up in his chair, hearing the alien's voice. Little emotion could be heard in the tone, but Artie could immediately infer from the use of the title Shipmaster that they were already dealing with a culture different than most of what was already known to the Federation.

"Shipmaster," Ryland whispered to himself. Something about it rang a bell, but whatever it was wouldn't shake loose. "Shipmaster..."

"Commander," Evaad said from Ops. "I can hear the Shipmaster. His thoughts are...strange. Alien. Sufficiently different from us that I'm not understanding it as words or even feelings. Their minds don't work the same as ours, on a base level. The one clear thing I'm getting is...purpose. They're exactly where they are for a reason." He shook his head vigorously, as if to break concentration. "Because it's not understandable it's easier to ignore. Like hearing music in a language you don't understand. All you get is rhythm and tone."

At his science station, Kemm saw the ship de-cloak and then used visual sensors to confirm and directed his team to begin analysis. The sensor readings remained odd, which make sense when encountering a new species. Kemm thought the decision to drop cloak meant the ship was likely not hostile, but it wasn't his job to make that determination.

"Captain, the Zynd'ra has de-cloaked," Kemm said.

"Let's see them," Trenna replied. "And put me on."

Evaad reopened the comm channel and nodded to the Captain.

"Shipmaster, I am Captain Osegan. I represent the United Federation of Planets, an organization that unites numerous peoples together."

She wasn't able to continue because the disembodied voice began speaking.

"What are you after?" the Shipmaster questioned. "We have nothing to offer."

"We are here on a scientific mission, to study the pulsar," she explained. "We aren't after anything other than knowledge."

Hearing this, the Shipmaster quickly retorted, "Our knowledge is not for you. Too many have tried to take things from us."

Damn, Trenna thought. This is not going well.

"My apologies, Shipmaster. I was not clear. What I meant was that we are furthering our knowledge through study of the pulsar. We can show you the data we've collected so far. If you're interested." She looked towards the science station where both Kemm and Chakma were. "I can have my science staff assemble it all for you."

"That will not be necessary," the Shipmaster's voice answered quickly.

There was a pause.

"Stand by, Captain Osegan Trenna."

The channel went silent.

Trenna looked around the bridge. "I guess we're waiting."

It had taken a moment to wrestle the tumbleweeds loose inside Ryland's rusty memory, but something finally dislodged. "Now I remember! I think..." He chewed his lip as he strained his recollection. "Back when I was with the Nyberrite Alliance, we had this assclown of an astrometric tech from God-knows-where. 'Twas always 'Yes, Shipmaster' and 'Aye, Shipmaster,' even when the frigate-captain told him to cut that shit out. Eventually the ol' prick jumped ship back to wherever he came from. But the frigate-captain said he was a... cock-something... cochlea, maybe?" Ryland narrowed his eyes in brief concentration before shrugging it away. "Anyway, his people evidently have a reputation for being shifty bastards, at least among my old merc crew. I wouldn't trust them, Captain."

"I'm not getting deviousness or untrustworthiness, Captain," added Evaad. "Just purpose. But as I said, it's all very strange. And that ship is well armed. A lot of our power is going to sensors for the study of the pulsar at the moment, but I'm ready to transfer to shields and weapons on your order."

"Noted," Trenna responded to both men. She didn't know anything about her new Ops chief, but she had no reason not to trust his input. And Dedeker....well he was Dedeker. Despite his previous difficulties, he was behaving himself at present.

"Shipmaster!" the Tech Chief said. "Maybe their data would help with our mission."

"Are you unsure of your own data?" he asked.

The Tech Chief shook her head. "It's not that, but those people have some different technology from us. Their sensors might give us more information that would prove useful."

The Shipmaster jabbed at a control panel with a finger.

"We will accept your data," the Shipmaster stated. "My Tech Chief is preparing to receive the transmission."

"Lieutenant Kemm," Trenna said, turning once again towards the science station. "Share our information with the Zynd'ra."

"Aye, Captain," Kemm said. He ran one final check that the data packet was assembled completely by his team and initiated the transfer.

Artie had remained silent thus far, quietly observing the action through this point. In a way, he was amazed that his instincts had served him well over the last couple hours. He glanced over to Tactical where Chief Dedecker had shared what little information he possessed. Artie had no reason to distrust the non-comm, not even after recent events, but thus far, the ship appeared to be out of harm's way. To the Captain, he asked, "Should we invite them over for dinner? Maybe we could do more to quell any distrust they may have?"

"I suppose we could. The question is should we. I'm not exactly the 'party host' type. Is that an area you are particularly strong in?"

In that moment, Artie heard the still-small voice of his father, the gentleman, cautioning his younger son that one should propose possibilities unless one had a desire to personally fulfill them. Biting his tongue, he told the Captain, "No, not really."

"It couldn't hurt to ask," Trenna offered.

Artie didn't respond. He'd already opened this door, and it seemed that there was no escaping the inevitable. Therefore, he simply nodded at the captain, leaned back in his chair, and waited.

With the data transfer complete, Osegan resumed her conversation. "Shipmaster, you now have the full catalog of data we have collected on the pulsar."

"We will add it to our knowledge. Thank you," the Shipmaster responded.

"As a show of good faith," she began, "I would like to invite you and your senior staff to share a meal with us."

The Shipmaster was silent for a moment. Muted words could be heard by the Altai bridge crew. "I accept," he finally replied.

"Excellent. We'll begin to make preparations. We look forward to your arrival at 1700."

"So be it," the Shipmaster said. Then the channel went dead.

Trenna looked at Artie. "Better brush up on your hosting skills," she said with a smile.

"Guess who's coming to dinner..." he muttered, looking back at the ship on the viewscreen. Artie had suggested it just because it seemed like the decent thing to do in a first contact situation. Conversing over subspace was one thing, actually meeting and seeing a new species face to face was another, especially when that interaction would be utterly unpredictable. "I'll get with the galley and have a variety of food prepared. Hopefully we'll find something they don't find repulsive."

"Permission to remain on the bridge," Ryland said briskly. "To, uh, man the guns."

"Permission granted," Trenna answered. "At least until its time to change into your dress uniform for dinner."

"Fuck my life," Ryland muttered under his breath. Too loudly, he said, "YES, MA'AM!"


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