NCC - 81102
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Entering the Unknown

Posted on Thu Apr 8th, 2021 @ 3:29pm by Five of Seven & Commander Tavis Inahri & Lieutenant Commander Bear Jasper & Lieutenant Aurora 4827/A & Ensign Alex Dalton & Commander Magnus Hawkins & Ensign Clarice Pichette & Lieutenant JG Cassandra Thorn PhD

Mission: Mission 1: Dirty Little Secret
Location: Briefing Room - USS Odyssey
Timeline: Mission Day 35 - 1002 hours

The senior staff all gathered around the large meeting table in the briefing room. Just beyond the massive windows was a unique anomaly with a small comet streaking across the landscape.

"Good morning all," Tavis said as he stood in front of the windows. "As you can see, we've reached the area that our guest, Five, has indicated. This is the entrance to an area of space known as the Stygian Traverse. Entrance into this portion of space is only available once a month when this exact comet passes over."

Moving back to his seat, Tavis stood behind it. "Inside the Traverse, warp speed is impossible due to the makeup of the area. This is going to make our journey slow, but luckily it won't be too long."

Taking his signal from the Captain, Five stood as he pressed a button on the table. The built-in holographic display came to life, showing an overview of the anomaly and a jagged line passing through. "As you can see, this is the best route through the Traverse. I have mapped out multiple options, but this is truly the best."

Bear remained by the windows, his gaze outward as he listened to Tavis and Five speak. So, they were going into the relative unknown, they'd be stuck at impulse speeds and they were apparently reliant on Five for directions. Awesome. His first question was an obvious one and the security chief didn't avert his gaze from that comet's path.

"Okay, so how do we get back out again?" Bear asked the reflections in the window. "Any restrictions on that side of things?"

Aside from the obvious danger moving through the traverse presented even on the road map Five had prepared Ensign Dalton couldn't hide his awe at the scene before them. It was beautiful, potentially deadly but beautiful all the same. He was certain they'd been retrieving some interesting data from the anomaly too during their journey, possibly it maybe required to aid them leaving the system as Bear asked the important question.

"It's suggested that the proprietor of Fiddler's Green has some sort of control over the region that's beyond the militant and socio-economic," Hawk said. "Whatever that may be is speculative, but thus far even the Dominion has left this place alone due to the meat grinder it presents to conventional armadas. Once we go in, we will have to be circumspect, far more so than on Dalia, or there may be no way out."

Bear didn't look particularly happy about this, but he nodded his acknowledgment of the situation. If it had been an easy mission, someone else would be on it. He turned, briefly, to see how the others were taking this news.

While two of Auroras three bodies sat quietly in the corner, attempting to remain inconspicuous, Gray at the table had to resist an urge to raise her hand. Sadly Violet's shot up and Green had to pull it down. Aurora hoped no one noticed. She listened to what Commanders Jasper and Hawkins said and she asked, "Won't a Federation starship raise all sorts of alarms? And I can't imagine this 'proprietor' not having a 'bouncer' at his front door to keep out undesirables."

"I have to agree," Tavis stated. "Unfortunately we don't have much of a choice. I can't send a team that far into an unknown anomaly without backup."

"Not sure backup will have much chance to get to us if it comes to that," said Bear, quietly.

FIve cleared his throat. "There is a space, which I've indicated here," he said, pointing to a small dot within the holographic projection, "where I believe the Odyssey will remain safe and obscured."

"The idea is that since you can only enter this area of space once every thirty, or so, days, we can stagger the launches so that we mix with the regular traffic," Tavis said. "This Max person is going to know the Odyssey is there. There's no way around that. But if we put enough distance between the freighter and ourselves, hopefully he won't connect us to each other. This will give the freighter team enough time to do what it needs to do and get out before he figures it out."

"Risky, but it could work..." Bear noted with an even tone. He trusted Tavis, but maybe his friend wanted this too badly.

"It's a risk," Five said in response, "but this plan has raised our 32% success rate into a 71% success rate. If the team can perform its function before Max even finds the Odyssey, we should be fine."

Aurora frowned thoughtfully as she examined the chart. Glancing at the captain, she said, "So who is on this freighter team?"

"We'll be taking a small team," Tavis responded. "A pilot, one of you," he said towards Aurora, "Bear, Five, another security officer and myself. The rest will stay aboard the Odyssey under Commander Hawkin's command."

"I...what?!" Violet exclaimed, then abruptly sank down into her chair, looking abashed. Green and Gray both reflexively rubbed the back of their necks a moment.

"What distance are we talking about?" Gray asked as Violet pensively bit her lower lip, "I mean, between the place we are going and Odyssey?"

The outburst caused Dalton's lips to twitch with mirth and softened the blow that Commander, grumpy face Hawkins was remaining aboard the Odyssey.

"We'll be within a couple hundred million kilometers," Tavis said.

"284,090,031 kilometers to be specific," Five replied.

Bear noted Alex's shift to amusement and raised his eyebrows. Good that the younger man was apparently feeling alright about being left with the XO in charge though, he decided, and focused his attention on the three Auroras. "How will that affect y'all?" Bear asked, genuine concern in his voice and expression.

"Why, thank you, Commander," Aurora replied, Gray gracing Bear with a grateful nod while Violet glared at Dalton, "for expressing concern for my well being. That distance is within my known limit. And before you ask I am not certain what my absolute limit is. There were...experiments that proved inconclusive. I decided to escape before my captors could pin down how far apart I could be before something...unpleasant happened."

Gray turned to the Captain, "I should be fine, sir. All of me."

"Would there be any point to assigning a medic to help monitor your condition?" Hawk asked, then thought better of his question. "I beg your pardon. Perhaps this is a conversation best reserved for the privacy of Sickbay."

Aurora wasn't sure if Hawkins' query was professional or personal and now regretted Violet being in the room because she could feel the blush creep up her neck at the question. Gray remained cool and professional as she smiled at the XO, "I should be fine, sir. The distance between my bodies should not impede my performance."

She glanced at the Captain, "I promise."

Tavis smiled with a nod to the Chief Engineer. "If we ever run into an issue, please let me know. Your safety is more important than your abilities." He turned back to the group. "We're going to be going in quietly. Just the four of us. We're to locate the target and have him beamed back to the Odyssey. We'll be using the emergency transporter tag to get him back. Once on board, it's directly to the brig with him. Last thing we want is for him to be wandering around the ship."

"We'll keep each other close," Bear added to Auroras. "If something happens and you don't seem to be aware of it, just know we'll be looking out for you." He considered Tavis' words then, and with a direct gaze, addressed the Captain. "And until we get back within transporter range - what's our containment protocol on the freighter itself?"

Gray nodded soberly in response, "Understood, Commander."

"Bring with anyone you feel is necessary to protect it, but I don't want us looking like we're carting around an entire battalion of soldiers," Tavis said.

"I intend on maintaining Yellow Alert for the duration of the away mission," Hawk said, "which means that the ship should be absent as few of its Security personnel as necessary."

Bear considered the situation for the millionth time since he'd been aware of their current destination. "Like Commander Hawkins," he said. "I'm more concerned about the ship than the freighter. As soon as anyone realizes the Odyssey is here, it becomes a target."

"And we should be prepared for that," Tavis said. "I don't see a world where they don't know the Odyssey is there."

"Being aware of our presence," Hawk said with deliberate enunciation, "is not the same as being aware of our location. Even still, haste will be necessary. I don't like the odds of having to punch our way out."

FIve spoke up, "I can promise you. 'Punching' our way out is not an option in this region of space. You don't want to upset the Archons."

Aurora-all three of her-looked sober at the prospect of them having to fight their way free. Odyssey was one of Starfleet's most powerful ships, yet Five spoke as if its might may mean nothing. As her engineer she hated the thought of them being rendered impotent by unknown or un-quantifiable forces.

"Well, we have the best target-detector we're gonna get," Bear noted with a wry amusement as he looked to Tavis and exhaled. "And we'll be as quick as we can." His gaze shifted to Hawk. "All you gotta do is keep the ship intact, out of trouble and not let anyone on board." There was a flash of a grin. "No problem, right?"

"None whatsoever." Hawk returned Bear's grin with a stonewalled expression that was neither offended nor boastful. Just resolute. "Just make it back safe and we'll do the rest."

Tavis nodded, "We'll do our best." Tavis pressed a button on the table's interface. "Helm, take us in."

From beyond the large windows of the Briefing Room, the Senior Staff could see the ship moving forward into the maw of the Stygeian Traverse. Slowly the open space was replaced by the swirling mass of the unknown.


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