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Lost and Found

Posted on Mon Apr 1st, 2019 @ 11:32pm by Captain Liarra Von & Lieutenant Erin Whitlam PhD & Commander Titus Livius Drusus PhD

Mission: Starbase 332, Where Are You?
Location: Captain's Office

Erin followed Commander Drusus out of the turbolift and into Ops and reminded herself to breathe. She'd never met the captain before and now the chief science officer was dragging her in to brief Von on their findings mere seconds after she'd updated him! She needed more time to get herself in the right state of mind before meeting the captain. It wasn't a confidence thing, she had plenty of that. No, she needed to make sure she made a good first impression.

"Wait!" she'd said as Drusus marched out of his office and ordered her to follow. "What do you mean we are going to the captain?"

The Magna Roman stopped and looked down at Whitlam with a furrowed brow. "I mean just that, Lieutenant," he said like it was obvious. "You and me are going to brief the captain."

"I can't!"

"Why not?"

"I haven't met Captain Von before," Erin said, opting for truth over some confection. "I need more time to prepare."

Drusus shook his head and turned to keep walking. "You'll be fine. Let's go."

"I can't, I ..."

"Now, Lieutenant!"

So she followed and set about mentally preparing herself. Ops was oddly subdued, especially when set against the mess that was the astrometrics lab just thirty minutes ago. Drusus led the way to the door off to the side and thumbed the call button.

Liarra took a sip of her cappuccino as she glanced over the readiness reports. Repairs were progressing, though there was still a lot of work to be done. The critical systems at least were functional. Still, the reports weren't that interesting. She was actually relieved to get a distraction when the door chime rang. "Come in," she stated into the air.

Commander Drusus strode in with his usual air of sturdy confidence. "Captain," he said as he came to a stop in front of the commanding officer. "We need to send our ships out."

She may have been drinking some coffee, but it was still too early for Liarra to process what was going on. "Let's try this again, starting with the why."

Drusus turned and gestured to Whitlam. "This is Lieutenant Whitlam, Head of Astrophysics. I'll let her explain."

Whitlam looked back and forth between Drusus and Von for a moment as her thoughts collected; it was all happening so fast! Stick to the facts, you'll be fine, she told herself before taking a breath and looking the captain square in the eyes. "Sir, the Starbase has some amazing sensor technology, but we are lacking in some of the more sensitive navigational sensors that are available on starships. If we can send out our garrison ships and feed their sensor data back into astrometrics, we can get a more definitive idea of our location in space."

Von nodded along. The logic did seem to make sense. "We may be able to accommodate that request. How many ships do you need?"

"Well, even one ship would get us a better reading on our location," Whitlam said with a half shrug. "But I think three would allow us to get a good triangulation."

Drusus stepped in, "Captain, I'd suggest sending ships out in pairs while we're in unfamiliar territory. Six ships, operating in pairs, from three locations would be ideal."

"I would agree," Liarra replied, still nodding. "We don't know what's out there. We only have the three ships assigned to us, but we have a few visiting starships docked with us. Perhaps we can get some help from them. It's not like there are many other options." Von turned towards Whitlam. "Lieutenant, can you provide a plan for the optimal positions for these ships?"

Whitlam gave a curt nod. "Yes, sir," she said. "I've already got a good idea of where to send them, but I'll work up some precise positioning and send it up."

Liarra smiled. "Sounds like a plan, Lieutenant. You give me the positioning, and I'll see if I can get you some ships."

"Thank you, Captain," Erin replied, feeling a rush of relief that she hadn't made a fool of herself in front of the captain.

Von turned her attention back to Drusus. "Commander, have you had any success in finding out what brought us here?"

Drusus brought up the PADD he was holding and tapped at the screen. "Some," he replied before handing the PADD to Von. "The sensor record is sketchy at best, given the interference from the storm. But, as you can see here," he indicated a section of the data, "we did detect increased levels of neutrinos and theta-band radiation."

Liarra scanned over the PADD. She was no scientist, but she had managed to pick up enough over the years to follow what she was reading. "I seem to recall that scans of the ion stormed contained traces of ionized hydrogen as well. That certainly sounds like the recipe for a wormhole."

"Precisely," Drusus nodded. "We're still compiling data, but the best working hypothesis we have is that that ion storm concealed the mouth of a wormhole. When it passed over us we went through."

"Then I can't imagine that bodes well for us. The only known stable wormhole is the Bajoran Wormhole," Von replied, her eyes darting over the display in her hand.

"Verteron," Erin said, barely audibly. But both the captain and Drusus heard her. The Magna Roman cocked his head to the side, inviting her to speak up. "Sorry, sir. Um, I read a report from Voyager's time in the Delta Quadrant that they were able to attract the unfixed end of the Barzan Wormhole back to a point in space by bombarding a residual subspace instability with verteron particles. It worked. The mouth of the wormhole was attracted back to their position."

"Wasn't that the incident that destabilised the Barzan wormhole on both ends?" Drusus asked, remembering the report himself now.

Erin shook her head. "It wasn't the verteron particles that destabilised it," she said. "As long as we don't fire a graviton pulse into the wormhole - which anybody who knows anything about wormholes knows is an incredibly bad idea anyway - then all it will do is temporarily bring this end of the wormhole back to our position."

Drusus considered it for a moment, then looked at Von and nodded.

Von laid the PADD on her desk and clasped her hands. Elbows on the table, she leaned forward as she thought. "Let's say this works. Let's say that we could attract the mouth of the wormhole back to us. Is there any guarantee that it could take us back to where we were originally?"

The two science officers both seemed to take deep breaths in unison as they looked at each other uncomfortably. Drusus turned back to Von and shook his head. "We just don't know enough about the other end of the wormhole to give any guarantee," he said. "Our hypothesis is that the other end of the wormhole was anchored in some way to the ion storm that passed over us. It's reasonable to assume that that is still the case, but what we can't know is whether the storm has dissipated. If it has, the other end could be shifting randomly just like this end. But if the storm is still moving through the Archa System ..." he trailed off.

"I was afraid that was going to be the answer," Von replied with a sigh. She leaned back again and rotated her chair to face out her windows. She stayed quiet for a moment, lost in thought, before finally saying more. "Keep at it, Commander. I want you to work with Commander Prescott and and see if you can attract our end of the wormhole back to us. In the meantime, I'll see if I can gather some ships and get Lieutenant Whitlam a better look at the stars."

"Aye, sir," Drusus said, with a curt nod.

"Thank you, Captain," Erin added before they both turned to leave.

Captain Liarra Von
Commanding Officer

Commander Titus Drusus [P: Whitlam]
Chief Science Officer

Lieutenant Erin Whitlam
Deputy Chief, Astrometrics


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