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Experimenting

Posted on Jan 11, 2018 @ 3:44am by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: Bramatine: Truth, Justice and the Federation Way

"EXPERIMENTING"

(Continued from "Letters From Old Friends")

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Captain's log, supplemental - our investigations continue both on the surface and in orbit. It seems clear that the Cairo and her crew had a hand in the disaster at the mine...

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Location: USS Phoenix, orbiting Acamar III
Stardate: [2.17]0110.1850
Scene: Main bridge - deck 1, saucer section


Michael Turlogh Kane considered his options as he sat in the centre seat of the Phoenix's bridge, watching Acamar float on by. About an hour ago, Jake Crichton had reported in, requesting the launch of a full-scale humanitarian mission at the site of the Hungry Pits mine, and it had swung into action. Doctors, nurses, and engineers had beamed down by the dozen, setting up temporary triage stations, shoring up the main tunnels of the mine in the event of an aftershock, and generally working to improve the lives of those whom this tragedy had touched.

The legality of it troubled him somewhat. Acamar was a Federation protectorate, an associate member of the great alliance - they had not yet given up their independence to join the Federation, and as such, strictly speaking, still controlled their own affairs. Normally, associate memberships were no more than a couple of years in duration, the length of time needed for a planet to make final amendments to its laws or society in preparation for full membership, but Acamar's application for membership had been pending for sixty years.

If the Sovereign of Acamar protested to the Federation that he was overstepping its mark, then Starfleet might recall the Phoenix and put an end to its humanitarian mission, citing it as an internal Acamarian matter. Worse still, if Hussein Karimi, or whoever he was allied with, decided to push the strict application of law, many of the officers aboard the Phoenix could wind up before a court-martial. The only way that Kane could see to keep that from happening was to have political allies themselves, people who could stymie any attempt by Karimi to interfere in the investigation.

In the meantime, the word from Jake was bad. In the wake of the earthquake that sundered the mine, engineers from the Cairo had signed off on the structural integrity of the tunnels, and work had not stopped. Either those Starfleet engineers had made the gravest of errors, or it was another example of the Cairo's negligence in this whole dirty affair.

He touched the control panel on his right arm-rest, setting up a secure transmission, to prevent anyone on the Cairo from overhearing him. When it was ready, he opened the frequency. "Phoenix to Lieutenant Yu."

[[Yu here. Stand by, Captain.]]

Kane waited. Jasmine was probably within earshot of some Cairo crew-members and was moving to where she was alone.

A moment later, she spoke again. [[Go ahead.]]

Kane didn't waste any time. "Commander Crichton reports that engineers from the Cairo conducted an inspection of the Hungry Pits mine in the hours following the earthquake. Furthermore, those same engineers declared the mine's structural integrity to be sound."

[[Understood.]]

Kane lowered his voice. "Lieutenant, find out what you can about that. If you can turn up a copy of the report in their computer or on a PADD somewhere, it'll be all I need to relieve Captain Leki and go to the JAG."

[[And if a copy of the report no longer exists?]]

"Your original orders stand. Look for any link between the Cairo and the bramatine operation being conducted by Pangeos Pathways."

[[Aye, sir.]]

"Good luck, Lieutenant," said Kane sincerely. She was going to need it. "Phoenix out."

He cut the connection, keeping an eye on the much smaller ship ahead of them in the main viewer. The Cairo was orbiting Acamar about one hundred kilometres beneath the Phoenix, and slightly ahead, so that she shadow of the dreadnought fell on her. As intimidating as it must have been, the Cairo had proved slippery thus far, and suspicion alone was not enough to impound her. Hopefully, something would happen soon to blow this investigation wide open.

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Scene: Primary Science Centre - deck 8, saucer section


Kassandra Thytos slotted a magazine into her new pulse rifle and released the safety. Karrington Crow, the ship's new science officer, was standing behind her, tricorder in hand. This laboratory had been hastily converted to their needs - all the furniture and equipment had been removed, and the wall opposite the door was buzzing with a thick new forcefield, itself being created by several portable generators mounted on the floor, ceiling, and wall. In the space of half-an-hour, a science lab had been turned into a haphazard firing range.

"Y'all sure this here shit is safe?" asked Kass, as she hefted the rifle onto her right shoulder. Her sensor net interfaced with the rifle's smartgun system, projecting a crosshairs and range to her target. "Like, if'n yore numbers are out, then Ah might blow a goldurn hole in the side'a the friggin' ship."

KC cocked her head and looked sidelong at the marine. "You have an interesting turn of phrase, Major Thytos. Where are you from - Gault?"

"Sherman's Planet, out near the Klingon border, as was," replied Kass. "I ain't got no friggin' silver tongue like alla y'all. Ah say what Ah mean." She turned her head to look at KC. "No disrepect or nuthin'."

"None taken," said KC airily. "I have a doctorate in linguistics - how people talk is interesting to me." She opened her tricorder and activated the device. "When you're ready, please fire a couple of rounds at the forcefield. And don't worry - the forcefield will absorb and dissipate the pulse energy from your rifle."

"It's yore ass," said Kass, looking down the barrel, finger curled on the trigger. She gave it a squeeze - the rifle kicked against her shoulder, three rounds expelling from the weapon in a loud bang, splashing into the forcefield like they were water, no damage done. Immediately, she felt woozy, same as she had in the barracks earlier. Her thumb found the safety again, and she hefted the weapon while rubbing her eyes with her other hand.

KC's brow was furrowed as she tried to interpret the tricorder's data stream. "It can't be!" She closed the tricorder and moved into the main lab, beckoning Kass to follow her. "Put that thing down and come look at this!"

Kass did as she was told, laying the rifle gently against the wall and following the scientist out into the lab. Several other members of the department were at work at various stations, but KC took her right into her office, to where a weird-looking experiment had been set up on her desk. Suspended in a stasis beam next to her computer was a small particle of dull blue fluff that was obviously being intensively scanned - the stasis beam generator was linked directly into the main computer.

"What ya got goin' on here?" asked Kass. She indicated the small ball of fluff. "Looks like somethin' Harry Bellecotte found up his own asshole."

"It's an Acamarian element called bramatine," said Kc, sitting down at her computer and turning the screen to where Kass could see it. "It's present in the planet's crust as an ore, but this sample was located in the soil near the mine. Major, how's your thermodynamics?"

Kass bristled. "Prob'ly 'bout as good as yore shootin' an' killin' folks."

"Point taken." KC inputted a command, and two graphs appeared on the screen, wavy lines that followed some kind wavelength pattern. "When you pass energy through a substance, it excites the electrons of the atoms of that substance, which in turn give off a distinctive energy signature. We can measure and plot that energy signature on a graph. With me?"

"Yup."

KC motioned to the screen with her finger. "The top graph is the experimental data from the particulate here on my desk. The bottom one is the reading from the tricorder when you fired your weapon."

Kass looked at them both. There was no mistaking it. "They're goddam indentical!" she hissed. "But if mah rifle is givin' the same readin's, then that must mean there's bramatine in mah friggin' weapon!"

KC nodded. "Right. Experiments on the particulate indicate that bramatine is capable of conducting energy through its own structure without losing much of that energy in the transfer. That's probably why someone decided it would be a good addition to the circuitry in your rifle."

"These new weapons we got aboard, they're prob'ly all manufactured that way," said Kass. "Shit. That means anyone who fires one'a these here rifles's gonna end up with headaches and wooziness and such."

KC leaned back in her seat. "Yes. I'll bet that the ion gradient in the bramatine energy transfer is very close to the electrical energy produced by the humanoid brain. It radiated through the weapon and interferes with your cognitive function." She folded her arms in thought. "I'll also lay money that that's the reason children were used in the mining on the planet's surface - their brains are not fully developed, and are less susceptible to the bramatine radiation."

Kass was shaking her head. "Those durty son o' bitches. Ah gotta take all those goddam new weapons offline an' report 'em fit for nothin' but shovin' up the Admiralty's butt." She headed for the door. "Thanks, Doc. What's next for you?"

KC began downloading her data onto a PADD. "Co-ordinate with Medical. I believe Doctor Jos has a patient that this data could help. Then report to the Captain."

"Me too." Kass waved her goodbyes. "Good one, Doc. Looks like we got somethin' goin' on, huh?"

KC got up and took a breath. She leaned down and switched off the stasis beam, and the little ball of bramatine dust dissipated into the air. "Looks that way," she agreed grimly, following the marine out the door.

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NRPG: Now we know what bramatine does. Thanks to Alix for several of the sciencey words and concepts!


Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer
USS PHOENIX


"He speaks an infinite deal of nothing!"
- Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1, Scene 1.117

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