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Professional Courtesy

Posted on Sun Feb 9th, 2020 @ 7:48pm by Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant Colonel Storr Garlake & Commander Arianna Frost & Lieutenant Commander BaoJun Qiao & Lieutenant Sophie Xiong & Lieutenant JG Kara Madavi & Ferrofax & Lieutenant JG Grace Sternwood Ph.D. & Chief Warrant Officer Maisy Amburton PhD

Mission: S1E4: The Hills Have Eyes
Location: Llorona Station Survey Office
Timeline: MD 1

With the unpleasant and awkward meeting with Administrator ch'Vihron behind him, Mrazak was more than ready to forget his name and focus on the matter at hand. This Lieutenant Madavi, identified as the terraforming specialist for the colony, seemed to have her priorities in order. Which is to say, what Starfleet wants, Starfleet gets, and in the matter of finding out whatever in the flaming nebula was wrong on Venus, Mrazak was Starfleet. For the first time since arriving on the station, Mrazak finally felt like things were going his way.

The transparent wall that overlooked the stormy atmosphere of Venus and its dark hellscape below stirred something in him as well. He loved a good storm.

As the field team trickled into the cramped but cozy conference room adjacent to the station's survey office, Mrazak allowed himself a chuckle of victory. "In a moment I'll open the floor for everyone to compare notes, but I'd like to start by introducing Lieutenant Madavi. She was perhaps the only cooperative individual on the station, and unsurprisingly she is also the only representative of Starfleet that I've seen. As such, she has indicated that she has secret information that she cannot share outside this room, which means everybody needs to pay attention to whatever it is that the colonial administration seems to be hiding."

Nodding decisively, Mrazak handed the floor over to Kara.

"Thank you Captain." Kara nodded turning to the rest of the team. "My apologies for the welcome you received. Starfleet is seen more of a nuisance on Venus these days. As you can guess with the terraforming project taking so long, you're catching some of the frustration and ire that's normally directed at us."

Which of course is what made this assignment so... coveted among the science corps. Kara had been the latest in a long line of officers who'd been sent here as a punishment for some kind of offense.

"And now that, you're a part of my team, at least officially you'll probably get more. Anyway I can forward you all the welcoming data packet later. I'm not sure what brought you all here but I can guess. The vault, yes?"

Mrazak felt his right eyebrow quirk halfway to his ear. That unexpected magic word certainly changed things. "Uh, yes, of course. What can you tell us about this vault?" The facial expression he threw at everyone else urged them to pay close attention. It was unlikely that they had gleaned any useful information, whether regarding the vault or anything else. But Mrazak was just this side of desperate. There was no telling what seemingly pointless tidbit could point them toward Qurban's predicted cataclysm that would stretch out from Venus to beyond.

"How oddly specific. Just what do you know?" Arianna wondered quietly as she too listened.

Perking up at the mention of a vault- she didn't remember anything about that in the briefing, but then she hadn't really been paying close attention- Maisy caught the Captain's significant look and paid attention.

"We don't know a lot yet, no one even knew the vault was there until the recent earthquakes uncovered the structure." Kara said as she activated the room's display and holographic rendering systems. She waited for the lights to darken, and for the mixed clay red & green surface of Venus to appear before them. At first glance the surface presented looked like the rest of Venus, the unfinished terraforming making the surface look like this weird mesh of two worlds. However, that was nothing compared to the large, dark doors in the middle of the hologram. Ominously standing out against the surface of the planet, these thick, decorated black doors drew the room's attention.

"We haven't been able to breach the doors, and sensor scans are barely penetrating the material they are made up of. What we can tell is there's a significant complex on the other side, possibly still occupied."

Mrazak felt a shiver go down his spine. "Still occupied?" His voice dropped to a whisper. "Could that be what Qurban dreamed..." Mind racing, he blurted out, "But there's been no evidence heretofore of a former civilization on this planet, correct? Are there any recognizable signs that might point to a known civilization, whether past or present, that may have colonized... Ve-Venus, is it?"

Bao's eyes glowed bright blue as he interfaced with the system, and the Phantom's computer core, connected to the Theta archives. He chose to ignore the comment about a "dream" for the moment, as he sincerely hoped a dream was not all the information that had brought them down upon the planet. Instead he rotated the image towards himself, attempting to zoom and enhance the doors. "Lieutenant Madavi, do the doors have any distinguishing characteristics or marks of any kind? An inscription perhaps?" he asked as his mind worked to answer Mrazak's question. He turned to the Vulcan, "No one has ever systemically studied the question. The planet's surface and atmosphere have been considered so hostile as to make colonization impossible by any civilization currently known to the Federation. There is, however, evidence in our that civilizations, including ones with technology exceeding our own, may have visited Sol in the past, so we cannot dismiss the possibility."

Arianna nodded, "indeed. Do we know if there are any security systems in place? Have we tried sending rover devices closer?"

"And, most importantly," Mrazak said, "who currently holds the final authority in studying it?"

"Ummm, alright, that's a flurry of questions isn't it?" Kara 'asked', with a chuckle and a grin. "Sufficed to say the political situation here creates more than a few issues with jurisdiction here. But right now our team is the only one with access to the site. Since this still falls under the umbrella of the terraforming initiative. The administrator is fighting us on it, of course, so we've been working as quickly as possible to gather all data we can. We've pretty much focused all our resources on this." That had meant land rovers, repulsor drones, scans from orbit... all of which, with a press of a button, were represented on the holodisplay along with a list of their data. A lot of data. "We're still going through it all, but so far the shielding around the vault seems to be the only security barrier."

"As for markings, we've got thousands of images of the doors and what we can guess is the underground structure. From what we can tell all of it is covered in markings..." Several images enlarged on the display. "While many of the designs repeat and it's clear that they are not simply random aesthetics, we've yet to discern if they are a language."

Bao smirked slightly. "Wrong question, lieutenant. Assume they are a language and try to deduce what they might mean from there," he said as he interfaced with the holodisplay to begin pulling as much of the markings as could be clearly made out. A full analysis would take weeks, but depending on the 'lexical' input size and nature of repetition, it might still be possible to find something useful. "I doubt, in the limited time we have, I can make much headway if no groundwork has been laid," he said with a hint of bemusement. He commented no further, however, as a message flashed across his eyes, pulled from the planetary network his AI had finally infiltrated properly. "All your efforts," he said casually, "are focused here? Nothing can be spared for operations at...Regio Phoebe, I believe is the nearest mining station?"

"Wait, wait, wait," Mrazak said, holding up an indignant hand. "Why do we care about some mining station when there is an ancient vault potentially containing artifacts from an undiscovered species?"

"We wouldn't, at least not besides the obvious; making sure our people are alright and getting the station operational again." Honestly, Kara hadn't focused too heavily on the station itself yet. Personnel assigned to it had begun the recovery efforts and so far had reported little to no progress. Understandable since the accident had only occurred a few hours before."

That answer made Mrazak twist his face in thought. "I see," he said, stroking his chin beard. "And are there signs of any other pending equipment failures?"

"Only on Platform Seven..." Kara said with a groan and a pinch of her nose. "It's not one of our primary platforms anymore, it still does some of the Terraforming, but Starfleet contracted its use out to the colony years ago. Since then it's become known as the Life Circle by the local inhabitants. A... movement that sees Venus as a garden waiting to be revealed... Kinda cultish if I'm honest."

Mrazak shuddered at the mention of fanatical cults. They always made life difficult.

"In that case, I see three objectives before us," Mrazak said, taking charge of Kara's meeting as if he had been in command the entire time. "The first: I want eyes on this vault. I will take Commander Qiao and the other one who seems to know so much about this planet--" He snapped his fingers at Maisy. "--to see what we can learn. If fortune favors us, we may even open it." He allowed himself a wolfish grin at the thought.

"I have a name," muttered Maisy under her breath, looking grumpy.

"The second objective: I want a salvage survey conducted on the destruction of the lost aerial platform." Looking to Storr and Rodi, he said, "And that sounds like a task for the Marines. Equip your hard EV suits and proceed to the planet's surface by way of the Regio Phoebe mining installation and try to locate the platform's wreckage on the surface. It will be hostile, so I won't be sending any science officers with you. Instead, you will carry a transponder unit that will allow Ferrofax to remotely uplink to the wreckage upon finding it. Once linked, Ferrofax can ascertain the cause and ultimate fate of the that platform. The Tiburon maintenance chief should have the pertinent details as to what to expect."

And then he looked back to Kara. "Lieutenant Madavi, I would offer my engineering specialist here to troubleshoot the malfunctions of Platform 7 and perhaps avert another systems failure. It may help Ferrofax and the Marines in their salvage efforts to know what to expect down in the darkness on the surface." He glanced at Arianna. "Perhaps Commander Frost would be persuaded to offer her investigative expertise as well."

It would certainly keep her out of his hair at the very least.

Sophie inclined her head to Madavi, but said nothing. It didn't seem important to say anything, after all. She would have a look at the Platform and see what she could figure out. It didn't require words.

Storr clenched his jaw. Every Marine was trained in EVA work; some loved it, some hated it, there were none in the middle, and Storr was in the latter group though continually found himself being tasked with the duty. He and Rodi had done training with the detachment (both simulation and external to MT) recently but knew that any journey into the black with just a thin skin between you and hard vacuum required recency and steeled nerves. He had both but was still not looking forward to the tasking. He cut his eyes to the Gunny with a curt nod then turned back to Mrazak with a more pronounced affirmative.

"Have I left anyone out?"

"Sir, request that I go with you, Ms Amburton and Commander Qiao, as you are effectively going in without security and I am as close as you'll get to it, considering your tasking of our Marine colleagues." Arianna countered. "Ms. Madavi is, I believe quite capable, as is Ms Sternwood."

Maisy beamed at Frost. At least someone had bothered to learn her name.

Mrazak furrowed his brow. "Ms. Sternwood?" He looked at Grace. "Oh, yes. I'd quite forgotten about you. If there is a band of crazed fanatics inhabiting the failing platform, then I think Commander Frost ought to lend her expertise there. The vault is likely the most secure place on the planet. Believe me, I would not needlessly risk my personal safety." He indulged a pithy chuckle at the mere thought. "No, I believe we have our assignments in order."

Arianna raised an eyebrow at the word 'needlessly' coming from Mrazak. "Yes, sir." She said finally in deference, if for nothing else, for show to the others.

"I still don't have an assignment," Grace said, flatly.

"Oh..." Mrazak chewed his lip for a moment. "Unless you know your way around an archaeological dig site, I suggest you go help figure out what's causing the terraforming platform failures."

"I'm an archeologist..." Grace said, flatly.

Mrazak laughed, then quickly caught himself. "Oh, you're serious. Very well, you may tag along with us to the vault." Clapping his hands, he said, "Now, anything we can't borrow from the Lieutenant's terraforming office can be retrieved from the Phantom, but time is of the essence. Move out and report your findings as soon as possible."

"I hate this job," Grace muttered to herself.

"Good. Use that," Mrazak said. "Vault team, report to the Phantom while I make transport arrangements for the other hazard team and troubleshooting team with the shuttle bay. And by me, I do mean Lieutenant Madavi under my tacit supervision. Keep in contact with me, and I'll update everyone with more information as I receive it." Nodding at his field team which was about to split into thirds, Mrazak gave a wild, impassioned smile. "Let's go see what we see!"


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