A Mystery, Part 2: Interpret the Message
Posted on Monday June 8th, 2020 @ 7:16pm by Captain Franklin Johnson & Lieutenant JG T'se & Lieutenant T'Pri & Lieutenant Ronan D'Anvers & Lieutenant Commander Neteri "Ikran" Shannon & Lieutenant J'Loni Mo'Bri Daughter House L'Keth
S1-A1-Ep. 1: Spectrophobia
Location: USS Poseidon; Private Office, Diplomatic Corps
Timeline: A short time after the events of, "A Mystery, Part 1".
It was a brisk walk for the Commander as he made his way to Mr. D'Anvers private office. Finally! Something exciting! The past few days had been a rather bore experience, with the intermittent episode of valuable lessons, teaching cadets, and everything a standard starship would experience on long voyages. This was different. Franklin's mind raced with the possibilities of what could be going on! It even ventured so far as to guess of new alien life, but even he knew how unlikely that was.
Along the way he stopped maybe twice to address the concerns of passing crewmembers. One was a cadet in need of some personal advice, a pep talk as it had been. They had stated they didn't think they were up to it, and thanks to Franklin's recent review of reports from the Senior Officer's, he knew in fact they were. He said so and that right away cheered them up and provided the needed motivation. The second had been running into Lazarus Kord, their new "transfer" Engineering Officer. He had been off-duty and heading to rest, their interactions was polite and professional, and Franklin was happy to see the Gorn adjusting to life in the Federation.
Franklin made a personal note to meet Lazarus under better circumstances in the near future.
After that, he made his way down another turbolift, then around a corridor and corner, finally standing in front of the Chief Diplomatic Officers private office, or one of them thereof since his staff was limited. The Commander pressed the chime for entry.
"Come in," Ronan said as brought a fresh pot of fresh-brewed tea to his desk. "Captain, thank you for coming. Can I offer you a cup of tea? It's a spiced blend that a friend sent me."
Franklin gave a smile and nodded, "Absolutely! Recently I've developed a taste for tea, as I'm sure most everyone knows now thanks to our esteemed Chief Medical Officer."
After entering a few steps and situating himself, Franklin's smile faltered only slightly as he asked the obvious, glancing between T'se and Ronan. "I take it this isn't simply a social visit?"
"No, Sir," Ronan said as he poured the Captain a cup of tea and settled back into his seat. "I've found something and I wanted to bring it to your attention." It took a few minutes but Ronan, who had a logical mind to begin with, laid it out, moving from one point to the next with a sort of economical precision. "... and that brings us to the Lieutenant's contribution, Sir." He turned toward T'se and indicated that she should pick up the narrative thread.
"Thank you, Lieutenant D'Anvers," the Vulcan offered as she remained poised and professional, especially in front of her Commanding Officer. A slight nod towards him, then she began. "As the Lieutenant D'Anvers stated in fluent terms, the short pulse transmissions were originally overlooked by our ships sensors. I can only hypothesize the reasons for this, as my expertise does not stem too far into communications, but I was originally able to distinguish the transmission wavelength from the ships nominal signature which ended in our present understanding."
"Furthermore, and to keep the explanation brief," T'se continued, "the transmission itself is odd and unique. In Starfleet Academy, I took the liberty of educating myself on a few ancient Earth languages. One of them was an ancient runic language, originating from Earths old European partitions. The language itself is called Elder Futhark, an ancient Germanic runic alphabet. This language of runes is being used to discreetly transmit the location of the Poseidon to somewhere outside of our ship. This has led the Chief Diplomatic Officer and myself to firmly believe we are being followed."
Franklin blinked, having taken several sips of the tea - and quite liking it! - during the interim of the Vulcan's explanation. His attention was focused and true, then waived somewhat as the postulation presented turned into more factual territory with mounting evidence. Setting the tea down, he sat back in the guest chair he had previously chosen looked between the two Lieutenant's.
"If I am correct in my understanding between the two of you, Mr. D'Anvers and Ms. T'se, this all started from a....background noise that was different from the rest?"
Ronan chuckled. "If you boil it all down, I suppose that's true. Its regular and it has syntax. Noise doesn't broadcast location." He leaned back in his seat and took a long sip of tea, without a doubt one of his favorite blends.
"Well, this is rather interesting," Franklin said as he scratched his chin. "Using an old language to boot, and one I've never heard of. I'll have to research this....Elder Funrack?"
"Elder Futhark," corrected T'se when Franklin looked her way for silent clarification.
"Elder Futhark," amended the Commander, giving a thanking smile. Glancing towards Ronan, he sighed. "Are you two sure this isn't some biological lifeform? Could it be something we've never encountered before?"
Ronan shrugged, looking at the Captain over the rim of his teacup, "Anything is possible," he said quietly. "Odd that they'd choose a language so obscure that it didn't make it into the ancient dialects database rather than something of their own invention. If I were to guess, I'd say that it had to be someone who had some sort of connection to Earth culture?"
"That should rule out biological life," offered T'se, clarifying further, "The percentage that something completely alien to our known understanding having the knowledge of ancient Earth languages is astronomically small."
Franklin nodded, taking a sip of his tea as he straightened his uniform somewhat. "Then I think we have a mystery on our hands! I think we can get communications in on this. See their expert analysis. Maybe a few other departments as well. What do you think?"
"Of course," Ronan said. "The more eyes and thoughts, the better."
"Excellent," remarked Franklin as he went about inviting others to the Officers via his combadge.
====[Short While Later]====
Neteri had bumped into J'Loni in the lift on her way to the briefing. "You got summoned too?" she asked.
"Yeah, any idea as to what it's about?" J'Loni asked.
"Nope. Haven't got a clue", Neteri said as they walked to the door and hit the chime.
Lt T'Pri entered shortly after the Captains summons she carried a PADD with her.
"Interesting I have a piece of a message too," T'Pri announced.
Both Neteri and J'loni walked in together and sat quickly. "I have a question, What could we possibly do to help you?, "she asked.
Commander Johnson scanned those present. He listened to the inquiries briefly before nodding to T'Pri, acknowledging her statement on important information. Briefly, however, he turned his attention to Neteri and J'Loni.
"You both have some rather extensive experience in the areas I wish to explore in this mystery we find ourselves in," he said to the two before addressing them all, "and thank you all for coming in. I'll catch you up on events."
The Commander took a moment to restate the events leading up to the current meeting. He gave everyone a nod to confirm they understood, then turned his attention to his Chief Intelligence Officer.
"Before I begin, I want to make sure I have all the chips on the table," the Commander said. "Ms. T'Pri, would you mind catching me up on what you know?"
"Thank you Commander. Two days ago I was going through weekly communiques as normal when I ran across a encrypted coded message inside a message. I thought it might be a diplomatic code so I contacted our CDO, Mr. D'Anvers. He didn't not recognize the code, so I contacted Commander Kanaka to report my findings. I ran the code through known codes and even our current classified encryption algorithms to no avail. The code itself is a type of fractal encryption. However when trying to decipher it, I was unable to find anything actionable. I then heard that several more messages were received in precise intervals. It then occurred to me that the encryption key itself may have been in segments along with the actual message it contained.", Lt. T'Pri stated.
"I believe I have part three of the message while you have parts one, two and four." T'Pri suggested.
Franklin thought a moment before giving a nod. "Alright, I think I'm starting to understand things a bit more. Now onto the meat of the bones. Lieutenant Shannon, in your professional opinion, would a fighter be able to be equipped for any of this? Since, from my understanding, we've had these signals for some time now I'm curious if it's some sort of undetectable craft."
"You mean a cloaked ship? Possible, but who? A fighter that was equipped with a form of stealth mode, yes. It would be more plausible. Yet the question remains, who!", Neteri stated. Shaking her head she wondered what group of individuals would add a signal to the vessel.
"I don't think Romulans would be stupid enough to reveal their cloaked state like this," Franklin mused. "Mr. D'Anvers, in all your experience have you come across any empire who traditionally uses cloaked ships, more specifically, cloaked fighters or shuttles?"
"Romulan's aren't the only species to use cloaking technology." T'Pri stated.
"That's true," Ronan said. "Off the top of my head, I can think of the Suliban, Romulans, Klingons, Maquis, and even the Federation; all have had cloaking devices at one time or another. There were the Progenitors in the Delta Quadrant, their cloak was capable of shielding an entire world, and the Voth. Then too, there's Terran Prime. So ... its not limited to the Romulans by any means. I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't also stolen cloaking devices being sold or traded."
"It doesn't necessarily mean that they are shuttles or fighters or even any vessels at all! They could be cloaked relay boys to!", J'L'oni stated. "It also could be a cloaked communications array, like the Hirogen in the Delta Quadrant. Anything is possible. Hell this could even be a totally new species we are dealing with," she added.
"Can we now decipher the message?" T'Pri asked.
"I do believe we have all the acquired information," T'se replied, "though I leave the finality of this statement up to Lieutenant D'Anvers."
Franklin nodded, looking to the Chief Diplomatic Officer with a smile. "What about it, Mr. D'Anvers? Think we can decipher this mystery?"
"I think we're several steps farther along, Captain," Ronan answered. A smile rose to his lips in answer to the Captain's own, and quickly dropped away as he began. "This has taken the work of several departments to get this far. Its decidedly covert and difficult to decipher, especially given that the message is overlaid in Elder Futhark and the transmission was initially too low for normal ship sensors to discover. When all the pieces are put together, we have this first message, 'Brother Cain, Brother Abel, the God of the Sea Roams the Stars at this location-' along with our then coordinates. After the coordinates which update with each message, it continues, 'We approach the testing grounds. Steady your hand, The Farmer Watches.'"
"The last message, provided by Lieutenant T'Pri, has the same first half with our coordinates but the last part has changed. 'We approach the bloodletting grounds. Ready the Hammer. Strike when ready. The God shall know pain. The Farmer waits for harvest.'"
The room was quiet after the translation was given. Whether or not Ronan's voice had any emotion during the translation didn't seem to matter; his voice was professional as he spoke, saying the details, laying out the mystery. A mystery that, for the briefest of moments, added a layer onto it. T'se was the first to speak as she rose an eyebrow in a Vulcan expression of bewilderment.
"Fascinating," was all she managed for the first few seconds, her voice low. Her eyes seemed to focus on something on the far side of the room as she was lost in thought. Then, "It seems to indicate something or someone sending information, though I admit I am slightly lapse on the translations of the latter halves."
"We approach the bloodletting grounds," Franklin muttered in thought as he repeated the latter half of the message. "That almost seems to indicate-..."
His voice stopped, eyes wide as he looked to the next person to understand the implication.
"An Ambush? We are going to be attacked, and soon according to this message. Someone is keeping careful track of our position", T'Pri said.
"By deciphering the intervals of each message intercepted, we should be able to plot where these bloodletting grounds are, Captain." T'Pri added.
T'se seemed to tense at the implications provided by T'Pri, surprised she herself did that come to that conclusion quicker. She gave a curt nod in the direction of her Vulcan peer and superior officer.
"If the implications are as you say they are, and I have no reason to doubt your logic, then I surmise our next steps must not be taken overtly," advised the Assistant Chief of Engineering. "May I?" she asked, gently moving towards the computer beside Ronan as she worked.
A few moments later the results came on the screen. "I am not an expert at triangulation," T'se admitted as she stepped back, "however I am able to utilize the ships computer to provide an estimate based on the intervals of communication."
"What did you find?" asked Franklin, only a hint of anxious curiosity in his voice.
T'se raised her eyebrow as she glanced at her Commanding Officer. "Captain, based on the distances of the communications, the interval of transmission, and a best estimate based upon present and available data on the the part of the ships computer, there is a possibility we are within ten five to ten lightyears of some sort of event."
The Vulcan glanced at the display, then back at Franklin. Her eyebrow slowly began to retreat back to normal. "I warn however," she added calmly, "that these are not solid data sets. These are hypothetical solutions based upon - if I may permit myself a human euphemism, a ballpark range guess of sorts."
There was a moment of silence, then the Commander looked at each one present.
"Excellent job, team," he said to all those around him. "You all helped cracked something likely no other Starfleet Officer would of picked up on. I'll take it from here. Mr. D'Anvers, can you please send the detailed analysis to my terminal in my ready room? Should be under slot 2 of the dropdown."
Franklin turned to depart, the cautious words of T'se still fresh on his mind.
Commander Franklin Johnson
Lieutenant, Junior Grade T'se
Assistant Chief Engineering Officer
Chief Intelligence Officer
Lt. Cmdr. J'Loni Mo'Bri
Chief Engineering Officer
Lt. Neteri "Ikran" Shannon
Lieutenant Ronan D'Anvers
Chief Diplomatic Officer