A Mystery, Part 1: Listen to the Message
S1-A1-Ep. 1: Spectrophobia
Location: USS Poseidon; Private Office, Diplomatic Corps
Timeline: Several weeks after Starbase 99 departure
Back at his desk, cup of fragrant, spiced tea in hand, Ronan sat staring off into the distance. Unfocused, what some would call a thousand-yard stare, it was his default, thinking expression, the point where he turned inward, tuning out the external. And that itself was quite the feat for someone who had never been able to take his eye off his surroundings.
"Computer," he said, "display the three messages tagged for analysis side-by-side." While not immediately understandable, Ronan began by looking at the content of each message. "Highlight common words or word groupings between messages."
"Analyzing," replied the computer. A few moments passed as the electronic process accessed the ships internal computer core, going through untold terabytes of data in seconds as it worked diligently to cipher and decode the mystery provided to it. A few seconds later, the computer responded.
"There are no common linguistic traits between the three messages," the computer replied in its calm, mature, feminine voice. "Side-by-side analysis of the provided data indicates a numeral pattern, with spaces between transmission. However, there is no modern day equivalent to the transmission pattern."
"Okay," Ronan said. "Okay." He took a long sip of tea, mulling over possibilities. The nature of his work meant that he often dealt with older, sometimes ancient dialects which meant that the database available to him had more unusual options available. "Computer, run side-by-side analysis against the diplomatic linguistic database."
"Analyzing," replied the computer in its ever-calm voice. The room was silent save for the ambient noise, the tense seconds passing as the computer did its best to comply with the request. Hundreds of years worth of information being compiled and recompiled in split seconds, with the internal processors running side-by-side comparisons on each and every single one. It was an impressive feat of modern-day computing in action.
Still, there were things that even it did not completely store.
"The transmissions language closely resembles an ancient earth runic alphabet, although the computer core of the USS Poseidon lacks the specific data necessary to properly determine the linguistic and runic origin. Best hypothesis presented is ... ancient germanic."
"Without the appropriate information on the subject," concluded the computer, "I am unable to properly translate the information."
Ronan leaned back in his seat, steepling his fingers as he thought about how to proceed. His work nearly always required research to one extent or another, sometimes requiring information beyond the ship's database, and when that occurred, he turned toward the vast number of scholars, academics, and diplomatic officers throughout the Federation for help. "Computer, compile a list of subject matter experts who have expertise in ancient earth runic alphabets."
"Searching," replied the computer. This time, it was only around two seconds before the computer spoke again. "Due to the lack of further up-to-date information on this computer's datacore, the most available individual with expertise in the field of ancient earth runic alphabets is Lieutenant, Junior Grade T'se. Presently assigned as Assistant Chief Engineering Officer, USS Poseidon, NCC 42635."
Ronan tapped his combadge and as he lifted his teacup once more, he said, "D'Anvers to T'se."
T'se finished her review of one of the ships critical plasma conduits as she crawled out of the jefferies tube. Thanking the Andorian Ensign who had assisted her out, he quickly handed her the datapad she had previously been using. After a few taps on its screen she gave a nod to the Ensign, with what amounted to an equivalent to a smile for a Vulcan. The Andorian took the hint and turned to return to his station elsewhere. Just about that time her combadge flaired to life. Quickly, she tapped her combadge to reply, taking only a moment to recognize the name from the roster.
=/\= This is Lieutenant T'se, how can I assist you Lieutenant D'Anvers? =/\=
"Lieutenant, when you have a moment," Ronan said. "Could you come to my office? I'm in need of your linguistic expertise."
Linguistic Expertise? T'se was quite perplexed by the request, but otherwise remained professional. She replied in the affirmative before returning to her work, briefly tying up loose ends and handing off any additional work for the moment to her fellow crewmates - anything noncritical, specifically. Afterward, around ten minutes after their conversation. she made her way to the Chief Diplomatic Officer's office, pressing the chime for entry.
"Enter," Ronan said. He had a pot of Vulcan Yellow Leaf tea, not replicated, sitting on his desk along with two cups. "There's tea if you would like some, Lieutenant." He poured himself a cup and nudged the monitor a bit so that she could see the display. "I understand that you're good with ancient Earth runic alphabets."
"Thank you," T'se said as she entered, both towards the tea and the permission. She took the offered cup and sipped, an eyebrow gently raising only enough to hint her recognition of the real taste of the tea. She took another sip to savour it. Leaning softly to examine the monitor, she gave a nod.
"Good is an acceptable word to describe my understanding of ancient earth runic alphabets," T'se confirmed. "It was a hobby of mine in Starfleet Academy, nothing formal and no professional use for it. I took it as my own personal attempt to better understand human culture and history. It would seem that it has further uses also."
A moment passed as T'se examined the monitor. The readout was strange, at first. She couldn't understand the pattern that was being displayed, and almost at one point she was about to conclude her lack of comprehension. Being Vulcan, however, and quite stubborn, she persisted. Taking another sip of the natural Yellow Leaf tea seemed to help her concentration, if only by a miniscule amount, as she displayed an odd quark of visible emotion; her finger tapped the side of her tea-cup subconsciously. Entirely unintentional.
After a further moment, she began to comprehend what she was seeing. Raising an eyebrow, she looked to Ronan.
"Very interesting, Lieutenant," T'se said, almost in congratulations. "I would have never guessed that ancient languages such as runes could be used for coded transmissions - more specifically, Germanic Futhark, or as it is traditionally known, Elder Futhark. Am I to assume you requested me here to assist you in your efforts?"
"You assume correctly," Ronan said. "Three messages received one light year apart. They aren't the same which leans toward a conversation. Can you help with the translation?"
T'se was silent for a moment. "Are you suggesting these messages are not originating from your own person?"
Ronan, cup half-raised to his lips, paused for a moment to consider the question. "Not suggesting, stating. Received by this ship by person or persons unknown. Now, whether these messages were actually intended for the Poseidon, well, that's another question. Did we intercept something? Or are we the intended recipient." He took a long sip of tea and set the cup back down on the desk, fingers loosely looped around the base. "Part of that answer lies in the contents of the messages."
T'se had an expression of seriousness develop around her. To say that Vulcan's typically didn't have this atmosphere of seriousness under traditional circumstances was technically correct, as even Vulcan's had their own specific "moods" for various situations. Previously, before Ronan had clarified the situation, T'se had been rather excited - in Vulcan terms - for the prospect of this new line of inquiry and investigation. Now, however, it had turned into something far more serious. Daring to take a long sip of her tea, she set the nearly empty cup down on the desk where it had originally been placed in offering to her.
"Lieutenant D'Anvers," began T'se as she lookede from the screen to Ronan, almost as if second-guessing herself for the moment. "If I am correct in my translations of this repeating message, the Elder Futhark is being used to transmit an up-to-date location of the USS Poseidon, exactly one light year a part per transmission."
T'se carefully looked at the readout again, raising an eyebrow. "If my understanding of subspace communications is correct, as was instructed by the Academy, this type of transmission is not strong enough to originate anywhere else other than our vacinity. Since you have stated that this rather interesting method of coded communication is not from you, it is therefore logical for me to deduce that we are being followed either from inside this very ship or somewhere very close."
Gently she raised a hand, pointing at lines on the screen displayed that represented the transmission. "I carefully state my lack of knowledge and expertise in this area, but these lines here, overlayed in background transmission, represent what is traditionally known as a 'piggy back' link, if I am correct in my terminology. This line here....I believe that is the Poseidon herself, which is familiar to me due to my Engineering expertise and duties, and likely represents the 'noise' from our warp engines. But this line here is the transmission. If I may?"
Curiosity peaked, she took a step closer, gently leaning a hand on the table and one on the back of Ronan's seat for support. "Computer, according to your understanding of subspace communications, what is the likely use of this transmission while considering the power output represented in this graph?"
"Processing," replied the computer. Then, a moment later, "The frequency and output of the transmission does not exactly match any known Federation configuration for subspace communication devices. Due to this discrepency, only hypothetical assumptions can be made."
T'se raised her eyebrow again, glancing at Ronan briefly before back at the screen. "Very well Computer, proceed."
"Due to the nature of the transmission, it is likely that it is using the warp field of the Poseidon to augment its transmission capacity to amplify its value to parts unknown, all while remaining undetected by normal operating sensors on the Poseidon."
T'se was quiet for a moment as she considered the reply. "Computer, hypothesize likely uses for such transmissions. Can you pinpoint the source?"
"Processing," replied the Computer. It took about a minute for it to reply this time. "Hypothetically, the transmission can be used to mask information being sent outside of the Poseidon to within five light years of the transmission source. This could indicate private communication, diplomatic inquiry, or, more likely, sabotage."
"And the source of this transmission?" asked again T'se, carefully.
"The source of the transmission is likely outside the Poseidon, to within several hundred yards to five kilometers. Any other location for transmission under the hypothetical conditions presented is deemed impossible by this Computer."
T'se returned to standing, carefully considering what had been said. She turned to gaze at Ronan with careful consideration. "As I stated previously, Lieutenant D'Anvers, the translation for the transmission is an up-to-date location for our ship, using a runic alphabet that is all but extinct, and a transmission method that is highly suspect and questionable. If this is not from you, or any attempt by you for diplomatic purposes, then I must state I firmly believe we are being followed."
Ronan thought it through for a moment and then nodded; there was really only one course of action at this point. He tapped his combadge at once. "D'Anvers to Captain Johnson."
Commander Johnson was silently reviewing the days reports when his combadge chimed. He tapped it once to reply.
=/\= Go Ahead for Captain. What can I do for you, Mr. D'Anvers? =/\=
"Captain, I have something that I think you need to see," Ronan said.
Franklin took it seriously through both the tone and seriousness of the statement. He quickly set the datapads down and stood, heading for the exit. Quickly, tapping his combadge to reply.
=/\= I'm on my way, Johnson out. =/\=
Lieutenant, Junior Grade T'Se
Assistant Chief Engineering Officer
Lieutenant Ronan D'Anvers
Chief Diplomatic Officer
Commander Franklin Johnson