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Breen Hunters: Quarry Found (Part 3 of 3)

Posted on Sun Jun 28th, 2020 @ 8:25pm by Petty Officer 1st Class Sandrine Ngamba & Lieutenant Xavier Leiko & Lieutenant Alistair Nicholas

Mission: Entropy
Location: Outskirts of Pra Grav, Arsakon VII



Previously on "Breen Hunters: Breadcrumbs (Part Two of Three)"...

Xavier tapped his combadge again and started looking at the new information that was displayed on the small tricorder screen. The tachyon signature was back and stronger than before. He spent a solid minute working on the device before he said anything to Lieutenant Nicholas. "From what I can tell," he said finally, "it looks as though there are traces of radiation all over the place, and they are all leading to one place." He angled the tricorder so that they could both see the screen.

At this point, Alistair had removed his goggles, looking over the other man's shoulder at the tricorder display. "Hm. How far do you think it is?"

"I'd say roughly 10 kilometres, but I have no ideas what could be out there. Any guesses?"

"Hopefully something without phasers or the idea that we're hostile." The security officer patted his belt, where one phaser pistol lay, just in case. "... I'd rather not get ourselves into a firefight right now."

"I agree, I think we need to gather everyone up and transport there," Xavier said. "Something is out there. Something that shouldn't be, and something the Cardassians either don't know about or 'forgot' to mention."

And now the conclusion…




Sandrine had her hands on her hips as she surveyed the area. They'd been here for a full ten minutes, fanned out but still within earshot of one another, trying to find... Something. The tachyon trace discovered by Leiko and Nicholas brought them to this rock outcropping and then seemed to dissipate. She was hardly a scientist - none of them were - but she'd overheard Centurion t'Seroht saying something about nearby mineral deposits making it difficult to narrow the sensor bands enough to gain the resolution they needed to detect the tachyon trail. It made sense to her and aligned with her experience, so she hadn't questioned it. Still, it was damned convenient.

Unfortunately, their visual inspection wasn't going much better. They were out in the countryside now, perhaps ten or so kilometers from where she and Llaiir had found the equipment and in the area identified by Lieutenant Leiko. Both Bodris and Gul Prin had confirmed this area was classified as public use, unoccupied and one of the many wide tracts of land owned by the Cardassian colonial government. It wasn't suitable for agriculture, and the mineral deposits weren't significant or coveted enough to justify the expense to mine them. There were dwellings in two directions, but they were upwards of fifty kilometers away. In the other direction, the rock outcroppings increased in density and turned into outright mountains.

It was just a place. Nothing remarkable about it at all. There were vast portions of similar land on every planetary colony in the galaxy. Outside of core worlds, most planets were sparsely populated. They were concentrated in the areas that made sense, where a temperate climate lent itself to agriculture or significant mineral deposits were waiting to be exploited. This was just land; though, if you were feeling generous, she supposed you could classify it as a conservation area.

Unfortunately, the area was proving to be remarkable for how it was frustrating their efforts. They couldn't pick up anything on their tricorders. They couldn't find anything using the orbital sensor network. They didn't see anything. In other words, this was turning into a dead end.

"Panapofuka moshi pana moto," Sandrine muttered to herself in Swahili, something akin to 'where there's smoke, there's fire.' Surely there had to be something here; it was just eluding them. Raising her voice to where the rest of them could hear her, she asked, "I say, have any of you found anything? All I see are rocks-" She interrupted herself long enough to slap her arm hard, smashing a biting insect beneath her palm. "-and these gnats."

In his typical deadpan manner, Alistair spoke from atop the rock he perched on to get a better look at their surroundings. "Seeing is only one of the multiple senses we can utilize. Simply because the sensors aren't... sensing and we cannot visually see whatever it is we are after, there is always at least a clue..." With that, he took a deep breath through his nose, sniffing a couple of times. "... Hm."

Sandrine heard the sniffling and turned, twisting up her face in confusion and slight disgust. "Eh, what's the matter with you? Are you coming down with a cold, Nicky? Didn't you take the inoculations from Dr. Eur-..." She cut herself off and shifted her eyes first to the left, then to the right. Finally, she sniffed the air, too. "What is that smell? It smells like... Burning polymer, eh?"

"Yes. A multi-layered, carbon-based Plasticine, if I'm not mistaken." Alistair narrowed his eyes out at what he suspected was the source. "... Coming from there."

She narrowed her eyes, too. Then moved closer to Alistair and put her own nose to work with him. As they waited, the shifting direction of the breeze gave them a better idea of the direction from which the smell was coming. The closer they got, the easier it was to confirm that the smell was coming from deeper within the rock outcropping, perhaps even into the mountains if the smell was carrying far enough.

The scent trail led them up into a small ravine that had been carved into the rock cropping by a mightier version of the lazy little stream running through it in the present day. There was just enough room between the rock walls of the ravine and the stream bed to make their way. At points they had to jump over the stream and force through some underbrush, but it was surprisingly easy going for being out in the uncharted wilderness.

Sandrine was in the process of glancing over her shoulder to make sure the rest of the group was following them when she spotted something curious: a portion of the stream they were following branched off and disappeared beneath a rock face. She took note of it and pressed on; shortly thereafter, she stopped suddenly. Something about that just seemed off… Most of it had been pieced together by that always active but never at the forefront portion of her brain that constantly reviewed evidence and her surroundings. It had been honed through years of investigative work back on Earth, and it was now very much second nature to her.

She recalled Gul Prin telling them earlier that this area was made up of karst topography. She wasn't a geologist by any means; however, she did come from a mining family, which meant she'd absorbed some knowledge about geology whether she'd wanted to or not. She'd never thought it would actually come in handy, but something about the way the water had disappeared beneath the rock sparked it.

Better never to tell her papa about this. She'd never hear the end of it. ("I told you that mining was in your veins...")

"You said this area was karstic, no?" Sandrine shouted down the ravine, raising her voice to where the approaching gul could hear them.

"That's what the topographical survey said," Prin confirmed as he came up beside her. She was kneeling down now with her tricorder out, scanning the stream where it disappeared into the rock. He crouched down beside her and tried to discern what she was seeing in what appeared to be ordinary water flow. "I'm not sure I follow you..."

"A karstic landscape means a lot of water erosion, n'eh? And underground cave networks. So. Where is this water going?" Sandrine asked, gesturing toward it almost as if she was accusing it. "We're not reading any underground waterways. No cave networks. No widespread rock erosion. No sinkholes. All we're picking up on sensors is a solid capstone rock layer. A contiguous capstone rock layer, see?"

Xavier had followed the group over to the rock face, he had his tricorder out and he was constantly checking the readings. They echoed what crewman Ngamba had vocalised but he didn't know enough about geology to confirm or deny her suspicions, all he knew was this was the only clue they had stumbled across within the last twenty or so minutes. "Maybe this isn't solid rock afterall?" He said, drawing the only viable conclusion.

Sandrine widened her eyes and nodded. "Right. Water doesn't flow into solid capstone. Someone here is monkeying around with our sensors."

"It would appear so," Xavier said as he tried to reconfigure his tricorder sensor settings, without much luck. "Any ideas on how we can test the hypothesis?"

The security investigations officer was already making some modifications to her tricorder. "It's going to fry this poor device, but I think I can generate a tachyon harmonic pulse that will destabilize whatever is going on around here. Maybe only for a little bit, but that's better than nothing, n'eh?"

"Proceed," Xavier said as he set his own tricorder to maximum sensor scan. If something was going on here, he wanted to get as much data on it as he could. "Everyone stand clear," he said, turning to the rest of the group.

Sandrine finished working on the tricorder, activated the program, and set it on the ground. She backed away and waited while the device pulled on its power cell in an unsustainable manner, emitting an increasingly shrill noise as it did so. Suddenly, the team felt a kind of energy move through them and the tricorder went inert.

At first, nothing seemed to happen. Then the rocks began to shift a few footsteps down the ravine. What had once been a sheer rock face was now quite clearly the entrance to some kind of cave, blocked by a solid metal door. Whether it was the activation of the device or the detection of movement, the door slid open to reveal darkness within. The smell they'd followed into the area intensified and became more readily identifiable as the smell of burning electronics equipment.

"Well, I tell you this," Sandrine said. "I am not going in there by myself."

Xavier's dark eyes scanned the void to try and see what lay beyond the door, as he did so he tapped his combadge. "Leiko to Rezvani, you're going to want to see this."



Lieutenant Xavier Leiko
Chief of Operations
USS Triton, NCC-62389

Lieutenant Alistair Nicholas
Security Officer
USS Triton, NCC-62389
(NPC - Seong)

Petty Officer 1st Class Sandrine Ngamba
Security Investigations Officer
USS Triton, NCC-62389
(NPC - Rezvani)

 

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