Something isn't quite right here
Episode 2: Inevitable
Location: USS Defiant Astrometrics Lab, Star System 133-05B, Expected Destination of Intergalactic Object
Timeline: 44 Hours Before the Arrival of the Extragalactic Object
The sensors pinged into space, gathering immeasurable amounts of data about the space surrounding Defiant. And yet, despite the incredible quantities of data, the science team was instead gathered in the Astrometrics Lab to look into the opposite: the data that wasn't being collected.
Since arriving in the star system, the ship's sensors had encountered numerous whole patches of sensor interference or outright dead zones. As of yet, they'd been unable to ascertain the cause. And that was the reason they'd come here, to the most advanced imaging system on the ship. If any set of sensors could detect the issue, it'd be the Astrometric sensors.
Claire Lafayette was seated on the lower level, working away at a terminal. She pulled up a new sensor grid and called out to the rest of the team. "Got another patch. Sensor grid 422 on bearing 037. Pulling it up on screen now."
The two story imaging array lit up, projecting a holographic recreation of the space they'd scanned. And from what they could tell, it was completely empty. That fact is what had attracted Claire's attention. Space was rarely truly empty.
"I found this grid near the 4th planet in the system, the gas giant with the sporadic rings. See what I'm looking at?" She asked, walking toward the screen and gesturing. "This section is actually between the ring systems. It should be filled with small particulate matter and debris that had been ejected from one of the rings. But it's not. It's completely empty."
Approaching the holographic projection T'Pem arched an eyebrow, and there was the slightest tightening of her eyes, and mouth suggesting both puzzlement, and possibly even annoyance. "That is highly improbable. Are we certain that this is not a sensor anomaly?", she asked, turning to the red headed human woman.
"Not certain, no," Claire replied as she looked it over. "Could easily be a sensor ghost. Some sort of cloaking field? Or something of the sort. I'd blame the Romulan ship that entered the system, but they just go here. Unless they seeded cloaked objects throughout the system, left, then came back."
T'Pem studied the readout for a few moments before responding. "I would find it unlikely the Romulans would expend such resources this far from the Empire. This system is not noticeably significant in any way, outside of the fact that the object is headed here, and we received that information before they did by nearly a week. I would like to run some algorithms through the system in an attempt to ensure we are not seeing a sensor ghost as you called it. Would that be acceptable?", she asked.
Maralen was studying the image, normally warm brown eyes narrowed and cool and calm. The conversation around him was duly noted, the information stored away in his mind for later processing in full. Currently, he was trying to see any tiny thing that might tell him what was going on here, but his eyes were not getting any more information than theirs at the moment which was entirely frustrating.
Calm always. The words of the Lesson echoed in his mind as he stepped away from the image and looked at the Vulcan woman. "Go ahead. The more possibilities we eliminate, the closer we come to the truth."
"I don't think it is a sensor ghosting issue," Alexander said as he departed from the elevator that connected the upper and lower levels of the astrometrics lab. Walking towards the group he began tapping away at his terminal, speaking when the data he'd transferred was on the screen, "Near the 7th planet," he suggested, "There's matter from the 4th planet concentrated around a space similar in size to the zone there" he explained, highlighting both zones for easier comparison.
"I think we might be looking at a wormhole of some kind," he suggested, "a small, impossible, wormhole" Factors were missing it was the only explanation he could consider for the displacement of the matter. The zones of influence matching in size indicated as much.
Maralen studied the information that McConnell presented carefully. The scientist's explanation did make sense and did fit the information before them. However, his mind immediately asked, 'what else fits those criteria?' He looked at McConnell. "Are there any other phenomena that would account for what we are observing?" Never assume. Always eliminate everything you can. Would he never hear the end of these Lessons in his head?
"There's a way we can find out," Claire said pensively, as she looked at the screen. "Could send a probe to the location and see what it detects."
"That's a good idea, Ensign," Isley said, watching the screen. She then tapped a few buttons. "Probe ready."
Maralen frowned at the image before him. Had his tail not been wrapped around his waist, it might have flicked in mild agitation. "Launch the probe," he commanded, eyes fixed on the image. "And project its readings in real-time."
The probe made its way through space like normal, it’s sensors picking up additional dust too small for Defiant to see from here. It got closer and added it’s sensor data on the disrupted square to Defiant. The dust in the region moved strangely, but other than that it seemed fine.
The probe was nearly on top of the interference zone now and nothing particularly anomalous was showing itself. And then suddenly, the probe was just gone. Nowhere on sensors at all.
Claire just looked on for a moment. “Um....”
And then there was blip on the sensors. Near the second sensor dead zone was a small burst of matter. Metallic and very particulate. But the alloys were unmistakable. It was the remains of a Federation probe housing.
T'Pem had been watching the goings on with interest. When the probe had disappeared she hadn't really known what to think, but then, when the sensors detected the destroyed probe her eyebrow arched. "Fascinating.", she intoned, and then turned to the young human male who had suggested the existence of a wormhole. "It seems you are quite correct, Lieutenant.", she added.
Claire nodded. "But now we have a bigger question. What does any of this mean?"
"It means something destroyed the probe," Isley said, frowning.
T'Pem glanced at the other woman for a moment before responding. "I believe the Ensign was speaking more of the larger picture, Lieutenant, not specifically about the probe's destruction.", she said.
Then, turning her attention back to the holo projection before her she spoke again, "Because we do have a limited number of probes, I would suggest against sending another into potential danger. However, I suspect we will find similar phenomena in all of the locales we are detecting blank patches in. Perhaps we could modify the deflector to emit a stream of energized particles that we could then monitor. If all of the patches are micro-wormholes the stream would egress at the termination point elsewhere in the system, allowing us to map them." she offered.
"That could work, I already have a working theory on what we're dealing with" Alexander piped up without removing his attention from the slate in his hands, "I know we're lacking some of the desired qualities but I think we might be dealing with some kind of Einstein-Rosen bridge" the Lieutenant said, transferring the simulation he'd been analysing to the main display, "I know the lack of black hole should make that impossible, but after our last mission I'm coming to determine some scientific rules are less rigid than we once believed"he admitted, "I Think T'Pem's strategy is our best way of confirming that" he voiced in support.
Claire nodded as she considered the idea. "It's definitely possible. Odd that we wouldn't be seeing the singularities, but...well, what really is odd at this point. The only thing I can't figure out is why here? It's an otherwise ordinary star system. The only defining thing about it is..." She paused feeling a bit of the gravity of what she was beginning to imply. "...is the object that is about to arrive."
"I am not prone to supposition, Ensign," T'Pem said, turning to look at the woman. "However, at this point, I feel that it is a valid point. It is unlikely, in the extreme that the object heading here is simply a coincidence.", she added.
"Unfortunately that does not answer any of our questions,", she said, turning to look back at the holoprojection, "In fact, I would say it is simply adding more to them.", she finally trailed off, her gaze appearing to drift as she took in the view before her, seeming to simply be passively watching it all unfold, while her mind tried to process the information it was being given and come up with any idea what exactly they were being confronted with.
Claire nodded. "I'll start rigging up some additional tests. If we can map all the disturbances, we might be able to find an origin point."
"Good idea, I'll head back upstairs and check the database for any similar phenomenon" Alexander added, firing a quick smile Claire's way.
Turning to Claire T'Pem spoke, "May I assist?", she asked.
The Science officer nodded. "Let's see what we can find out there."