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Behind the Veil
The Origen Project

Observation Lounge <Deck 8> [Gibraltar Station]

This room is a slightly curved rectangle, with a single door to the aft. To its left sits a large display panel which can be configured to show whatever data is needed. In the center of the room is a large, curved cherrywood table with a smoked glass top. It is ringed with maroon chairs: one at either end, four on the inner side, and five on the outer. These chairs have both head and armrests and there are small data panels set into the glass tabletop in front of each one. The four legs of the table are a dark marble speckled in maroon and white. They come up around the top of the table to form a slight division between some of the chairs. In the starboard wall are five large windows that look out upon space beyond. Port is a wall paneled in oak that supports two gold models--one of a Regula-class station and a much larger one of a Buckingham-class station. The walls are light gray and the carpet blue speckled with maroon. Lighting is provided by panels in the ceiling.

Katherine Alexandria
Bunni Aventino
Winifred Brooks

(There are central officers sitting around the central table: Aventino, Alexandria, and a group of science officers.)

Brooks comes through the door with a stack of PADDs in hand, glasses on her nose. She waves to whoever's already here.

Aventino nods to the Assistant Chief and Cartography Supervisor, "M'train, Madachy, good to meet you," she smiles, "I was wondering if Fred would be along," she retreats back toward the head of the table, getting her stuff organized a little bit and then going over to a comm panel to check on the status of the takeout.

Alexandria nods and looks at the other officers as Brooks enters, "So as we were in the VIP suite he came in and was the nicest guy... he wanted to know about our research."

"I'm here," Brooks says absently to Aventino. "Commander Solvek'll be along, too, just in case y'all need his input. I expect we'll both be here more to advise than anything, since we're not really on the Origen project or whatever." She takes a seat toward the end of the table, peering at a PADD.

The other science officers giggle with Kat at her story. M'train speaks up, "Oh and he brought us those most interesting chocolates."

The observation doors open after a while and a small team of civilian waitstaff enters, bearing a few large covered platters and some smaller bowls, several large pitchers and a bunch of cups. Soon everything's set out on the table: cups with pitchers of ice water, iced tea, and cold soda; a platter of individually wrapped burritos of various sorts (bean and cheese, chicken, beef) and another one of similarly wrapped hard tacos; bows of sour cream and guacamole, little bottles of red hot sauce, and, for the middle of the table, a big bowl of nachos with all the fixins. It might be a little much for the smallish gathering, but nobody's going hungry tonight.

"Alright, awesome," Bunni says, giving the waitstaff a nice tip, "Everyone go ahead and dig in, meeting starts in 10. Hey, Fred," she greets Brooks with a smile.

Brooks looks up at the table. "Tacos." She sighs and smiles. "Bunni, I love you. In a totally Platonic sort of way. Don't want the fiance getting jealous or anything."

Alexandria glares at Brooks and then looks back at her PADD, closing up a bit. She looks up, while the others get something to eat. One of them brings her a drink and then sits down, they all seem consumed in their PADD work.

Stepping into the Observation Lounge with a couple of PADDs tucked into his hand, held much like a schoolboy'd carry his books to school, Emory Veshedsky makes his way around. He makes greeting gestures around to the two or three people he may already know, before taking case of the spread on the able and raising his eyebrows. "Huh." He shrugs his shoulders a little bit, before moving around to sit down, rolling his neck slightly and taking in a breath, spreading out the two PADDs in front of him, activating his display.

Solvek walks in, a PADD in his hand. He looks around the room and takes notice of Alexandria. "Welcome back, Lieutenant Alexandria. I... hope that your trip went well?" After asking this question, he takes a seat next to Brooks.

Alexandria nods and smiles. "Yes sir, very well, thank you sir."

M'train looks at Kat and then at Solvek, "Very well? You won an award, and were nominated for Vice Chairman..."

Alexandria kicks M'train under the table and shushes him, shaking her head. "No... let's not bring that up. I mean it's not about me." She gives M'train a deadly look.

Brooks blinks at Alexandria for a moment before reaching to get herself a plate of tacos. As Solvek comes over she calmly grabs one of the chicken burritos and plops it on a plate in front of him, then goes about getting iced tea. "I don't s'pose they brought any sugar... oh, an award? Congratulations." Alexandria gets a bright smile.

Alexandria grits her teeth, smiling very forcibly. "Oh it's nothing."

Shifting slightly in his seat, Emory just fiddles with his PADDs for now, making sure they need, clearing his head for now and rolling his neck. He begins to glance around at some of the other officers, taking note of ranks, faces, trying to associate faces with names he knows already. Aventino is familiar. As is Brooks. The Vulcan... that must be the XO. Hrm...

Aventino gets her stuff together and grabs a burrito quickly, opening up the wrapper and spooning out some sour cream onto it, then dousing the white with red hot sauce as people chat and file in. She smiles at the Chief Engineer, "Hey, Lieutenant Commander," she greets, "Your team en route? I haven't heard a thing from them," She pushes the end of the burrito into the reddened sour cream and takes a bite.

Glancing up from the PADDs, Emory tilts his head a little bit. With a bit of a glance around, he begins to sit back... "The team is assembled, Lieutenant. At the time, they're having to attend to getting settled in, and getting acclaimated. I'm here to get the info we'll need so I can brief them later," he remarks softly to Aventino, smiling pleasantly to her for a moment.

Solvek stares at the plate and glass that have just been pushed in front of him. Opting for the liquid, he takes a drink. "If I may, your modesty in this situation is highly illogical, Lieutenant. Commendations such as these are a great honor and should be looked upon as such. However, I will respect your... desire for privacy on this matter, if that is your wish."

Brooks glances to Solvek. "It's chicken," she says, as if that explains everything, then looks to Alexandria. "Well, congratulations anyhow. Vice chairman of what?" She drizzles salsa on her tacos.

Alexandria tries very hard not to get testy, but says meekly and quickly, "I was nominated for a term as Vice Chairman of the Omicron League of Scientists, development and research circle. I then won an award for Most Promising Young Scientist." She then returns her gaze to her PADD, hoping upon hope that the meeting will start soon.

M'train smiles, "Yes, it was most exciting, and she got a book deal... well we did... I mean her and I, yes we both did... I mean our names are on it."

Aventino nods to the Chief Engineer, "Okay, then, since we're not expecting anyone else," she says, grabbing a napkin and wiping the corner of her mouth a bit, "Let's get started, huh? I figure we'll start out overviewing the mission objectives, then we'll parse the various obstacles known to us at this point and go from there," she offers cheerfully. "Everyone ready?"

Solvek seems to ignore the conversation going on between the science officers. He cuts off a bit of his burrito, looks at it for a moment, and then eats it. He seems to savor the taste before swallowing. He turns to Aventino and, making sure he catches her eye, nods.

"Let's get started, yes." Emory sits up a little bit. For the time being, he's grabbed himself a glass and poured himself some tea, sipping it just slightly. He glances over toward Alexandria, furrowing his eyebrows a little bit, but he looks away after a moment, glancing toward Aventino with a nod.

Alexandria taps on M'train's PADD for him to get ready to take notes and smiles at Fran before looking at Aventino.

Brooks blinks at Alexandria and M'train then beams. "Oh, wow, really, you'll have to tell me all about it later... that's great." She settles in to eating her taco, waving a hand at Aventino. "G'head. Just let me know if you need anything filled in, okay?"

Aventino nods to Fred, "Great, and just jump in if I get too far off course," she chuckles, and then turns to the viewscreen, tapping a few buttons and bringing up a representation of the Maelstrom. "Our primary mission objective is to allow a shuttlecraft to be piloted safely into the outer layer of the Maelstrom and approach the Maelstrom Object, last spotted here," she points to a spot on the diagram, and an image pops up inset into the side of the viewscreen, showing the object itself, "and attempt to establish communications contact."

Solvek turns his attention to Aventino, listening as he eats.

Veshedsky turns as well, to listen tilting his head to the side as he listens. From time to time, he sips at his tea, and hrms...

"Our secondary mission objective will be to hone Origen's defenses so that it may enter safely even into the second layer of the Maelstrom. This objective, obviously, will be based heavily on information brought back from the first mission, so let's not get too far ahead of ourselves," Bunni smiles, "There are three main factors working against the ultimate survival of a ship entering the first layer of the Maelstrom and approaching the Maelstrom Object. The first is the high level of gamma radiation ambient in the cloud. This factor does not present any active threat to Origen's defensive systems, but should be kept in mind at all times as the radiation will exert its own stress on the shielding and will effect how the shielding reacts to other destructive forces."

Veshedsky says, "Lieutenant, a question."

Brooks nods as Aventino speaks, in agreement with what she's saying.

Aventino looks across toward the Chief Engineer, "Yes?"

Veshedsky says, "I trust that there was a metallurgical analysis done on the shuttle upon its return from the first mission. My team can begin working on a formulation, perhaps, to intensify hull plating strength to withstand some of the radiation that gets through the defensive and navigational deflectors. Is this information readily available?"

Brooks puts in, "It's not gonna be easy, 'cause we got hit with a different type of radiation from the probe. We've got plenty of data for simulations, though, since the radiation levels are known and we know the effect of gamma radiation on our hulls..."

Aventino is about to speak when Fred replies, instead, and she nods, "You should be able to access the data taken from the Copernicus scans after its landing, as well as the sensor logs from Copernicus itself."

Veshedsky says, "Beautiful. Thank you, both." He smiles, and nods. "Please, continue," he adds.

Alexandria listens quietly.

Aventino does indeed continue, "The second and most serious obstacle is the random energy discharge phenomenon which takes place within the outer level of the Maelstrom. The energy discharge is not dissimilar to a phaser blast except inasmuch as the spread pattern at contact point can be -- well, most often is multivariable," she presses a few buttons and brings up a representation of the discharge striking a shield; at he point of contact the tip of the beam seems to jerk back and forth, effectively striking at two, then three, then four, then five places at one strike, "This is what brought down the Copernicus shielding and fried half the shuttle's systems. Now, even once the shielding's down, the gamma radiation would be more or less taken care of by the structural integrity field... assuming, of course, the structural integrity field wasn't kocked offline by the energy discharge... but then Copernicus came into contact with another form of radiation, this one emitted in a beam from the Maelstrom Object itself. This radiation discharge is like nothing on records-- it physically moved Copernicus backward out of the Maelstrom, and took a great toll on the hull of the ship," she looks toward Veshedsky, "That's the radiation signature you're going to find on on the Copernicus scans. It's definitely more dangerous than the ambient gamma radiation in the cloud itself, but at this point we have no reason to believe that if the shields had been up at the time of contact the radiation would have posed a threat to the ship. Of course, we know almost nothing about this new radiation, so... anything's possible. I'd like us to assume that the radiation beam will cause approximately a hundred times the strain on the Origen shields than the ambient gamma radiation, just to be on the safe side. We'll use that figure in our simulations."

Veshedsky is still listening, taking notes on his PADD. Every so often he checks his display in front of him, tapping it slightly.

"It struck me as being like a tractor beam," Brooks puts in. "And it only happened when we got too close. I think it was... a proximity... thing. Y'know. To keep us from running into it like we were about to."

Aventino nods toward Fred, "That may well be the case, but for the sake of thoroughness we should also keep the possibility in mind that it may be a weapon of some sort. There's also the issue of how close we may have to get to establish a firm comm link with the object through both the radation and increased or modded shielding. We may literally end up needing to get up in its face to say hello. But one possible solution to the radiation problem would be to introduce some basic metaphasic qualities into the shielding. Then, even at a hundred ex gamma thrash we should be able to laugh it off. Should. Again, we've never seen this form of radiation before. Can I get some work-ups from Science analyzing the kinetics of the radiation against a metaphasically enhanced field? It'd be great if we could sit in one place in front of it for a while."

Alexandria nods and makes a note. "Yes, we will get on that."

"Which brings us back to the real problem at hand. The random energy discharge. Like the name implies. Random. Will another one hit us? Don't know. Are we going to assume that one is going to hit us? Of course. In fact, before we let Origen go in there," Aventino smiles almost sadistically, "We're going to make sure shields will hold at at least fifty percent through a succession of five discreet strikes in a row. We're not losing anyone in that storm," she declares, "And given what we know of the lower layers of the Maelstrom, this is a bridge we're going to have to cross soon, anyway. We're going to need this kind of endurance if the station is going to survive that storm. So let's make it happen as early as possible so we can give the Lieutenant Commander here plenty of time to test its feasibility for the entire station and come up with a backup plan if need be," she grins. "Now, for the question of the night. How do we do it?"

Brooks looks over to Veshedsky, head tilting. That's something for Engineering, after all.

Veshedsky takes a breath for a moment, considering the question. "We characterize the energy strikes almost as phaser blasts, but they're multi-variable, you're not sure where they're going to hit at any given moment. And, I assume they discharge at a rate faster than any phaser bank could, yes?" He leans back in his chair a little, rubbing his face and considering the ideas... "Then you have to factor in the radiation pounding at the shielding, as well..."

Brooks puts in, "Actually, once you're past the radiation belt the gama levels go down a lot, to be pretty much not a factor anymore. The problems of the two levels are very discreet."

Veshedsky says, "Do we know what frequency of energy these bolts discharged at? Energy output, that is. If so, it could be a simple matter of rotating the shield frequency to match and compensate. But we all know that even a shuttle's shields can only take so much when standing up againt high-power phaser bolts. Hence, we need more energy output from the deflector generator itself."

Alexandria's compin beeps, "Ms. Alexandria? We have a small problem with the Huntarysn plants. Could you come to the lab please?" Alexandria stands. "If you will all excuse me." She looks at Brooks. "Please keep me informed."

Aventino nods at the Chief Engineer, turning back to the display screen and bringing up the demonstration of the multi-variable strike again, then peeking at Fred, "Yes, but we're currently working out a strategy to deal with the energy blasts within the outer level, while we're dealing with the Maelstrom Object," she nods to Alexandria and then looks up the frequency of the energy discharge as recorded by the Copernicus, "The frequency fluctuates within the strike itself. It's not a homogenous beam like we'd find in a phaser. But it all seems to stay within the higher C4 range, sometimes peaking in C5." Aventino looks up, "That's not a bad plan. Actually, if we don't mind not having the option of using the shuttle's phasers, we could just close the spectrum continuum of the shielding completely. Hell, we could take out the phaser banks altogether and put in more power cells to fuel the shields." She looks at Fred, "What are the chances we'll have to shoot anything in there?"

Brooks blinks at Aventino. "There's energy blasts in the outer level? Did something change?" She starts riffling through her PADDs almost desperately. "Umm... I dunno. I doubt it, but I had some ideas about the probe... oh, damn, where'd that report go... are the levels mixing now or something?"

"The shuttle could be modified with small pulse phaser cannons, like off of the old Constellation-class, if that's necessary to have to shoot something. Take out the main phaser banks to pack in the power cells, stick those babies on the nose if necessary... But you'd have to be careful with power allocation," Emory remarks after a moment, considering the idea.

Aventino nods, and considers the chart thoughtfully a while, "I was also considering implementing a redundant shielding system, which is something I've been designing on my own for a while. The only problem with that is... well, I wouldn't be able to get the entire system in place, as it wouldn't be compatible with the shuttle. I could put up a crude redundancy matrix, threefold or fourfold..." she turns back, "Especially if we've got some extra room where the phaser banks used to be. Again, I know that it's unlikely that the shuttle will be struck with the energy discharges at this stage of the project. But again, it's something I want to be ready for, just in case Origen hits another one of those gravity wells."

Brooks blinks. "Oh. Did you mean the spikes in the shields themselves the radiation belt can cause? 'Cause that's a problem, too. Umm. Keep the shuttle in the outer layers--which is where we found the object anyhow--and all we should have to deal with, for now, is the radiation and what it can do to the ship's systems. And the object. Which I don't think has weapons. I think it's a warning beacon. 'Cause, y'see, I just realized today that there's evidence the Maelstrom might've come this way a couple hundred thousand years ago, and maybe to some inhabited places too, but only the once... no evidence for it beforehand... so I was thinking we should cross-reference it against some of the older races, but if it's something like that we won't be having to shoot anyhow, there won't be anyone to shoot at."

Veshedsky nods a little bit, rubbing his chin in consideration. "Perhaps if you combine the two ideas together, it could work. I can rig up a redundant shielding system in a few days, maybe, along with my team," he remarks after a few moments, beginning to nod... "I'd like to run some tests, though. A few simulations to make sure the components won't burn themselves out," he adds.

Aventino nods toward Fred, "Modding the shields with metaphasic characteristics should take care of the radiation spikes." Then, toward Veshedsky, "I've already done extensive testing of a good fourfold redundant shielding system. It'll run 'til the cows come home without shift Or at least six months without re-alignment. What I would like you to do is see if there are any problems that crop up when applying metaphasic qualities to the system. I'll transfer you my sim stats and case results this evening, and you can take over from there, okay?"

Brooks stops riffling through PADDs and instead stacks them neatly again before tackling another taco. Her third.

Veshedsky nods slightly, making a note on her PADD. "Very well, Lieutenant."

Aventino hms, "Of course, as I was saying before, the redundant shielding system will have a couple of detrimental effects on the mission. First of all, we'll have to get a lot closer to get a good comm link. Second of all, it might flub up sensors a bit, and since half of the fun of going into the Maelstrom is seeing what's inside..." she shrugs. "Then, since the energy strikes will only be a problem if we get pulled down into the storm proper... maybe we could add an option to cut the redundancy fields when we don't need them."

Veshedsky says, "We could recalibrate the sensor arrays to compensate for the backdrop the shielding arrays cause, I'm sure. It may take some more time, but for now, we seem to have that."

Aventino nods to Veshedsky, "If you think you can do it, go on ahead and get started."

Veshedsky nods. "We'll see about it," he remarks.

Aventino settles down, now, and fairly well scarfs the rest of her first burrito. All that talking made her hungry. "Alright, so at least we've got some idea of where we're going with this," she says, once she's swallowed and licked the burrito juices off of her fingers, "But I don't want to pigeonhole us into just doing this. If your team comes up with another idea, bring it to me, by all means. And take them some burritos, we're going to have a million of them left over," she adds with a smile. "Does anyone else have anything to add before we break?"

Veshedsky shakes his head a little bit. Quietly, he begins to reach for one of the burritos, examining it for a moment before shrugging and taking a bite.

Brooks shrugs to Aventino. "Just that I'm stealing the burritos if no one else lays claim..."

The lounge's doors swoosh open to reveal a good-looking red-haired vulcan woman in that nifty form-fitting starfleet one-piece duty uniform that she makes look so good -- T'Lyt, of course.

Aventino chuckles at Fred, "Well, okay, since you actually came and the engineering staff didn't, I guess you get first pick." The table is still fairly laden with Mexican takeout, and Bunni stands up again, going toward the display to clear the diagrams and images from it, pausing as she spots T'Lyt, "Hey, Lieutenant," she greets with a smile, "We're just finishing up here. Do you have the observation lounge next? We'll get these tacos out of your hair in just a moment."

Sitting in one of the chairs near the door, Emory Veshedsky is sitting back in his chair, holding one PADD in one hand, and a burrito in the other hand as he reads over some information. He finally taps the PADD with a finger, deactivating it, and sliding it onto a belt holder. The other is picked up off of the table, and he stretches a little bit, rolling his neck and glancing at a chronometer on one of the monitors. "Hrm..."

"I actually came to meet the new Chief of Engineering," T'Lyt replies to Aventino. "A simple query of the computer indicated his presence, here." Her eyes move to Veshedsky, after looking to and nodding to both Solvek and Brooks in turn, who is the only person in the room she doesn't know. "I assume, Lieutenant Commander, than you are our new Engineer?" she asks, standing with her hands folded together behind her back.

Standing fully from his chair after a moment and tilting his head a little bit as he's addressed by T'Lyt, Emory turns completely, nodding a little bit. But, alas, both hands are occupied. One is... burrito'd, and the other has a PADD in it. Thusly, he can't offer a handshake. Just a curt nod in acknowledgement. "That I am. Lieutenant Commander Emory Veshedsky. Good to meet you, Lieutenant...?" he asks toward T'Lyt after a moment or two, tilting his head.

Brooks stands and reaches across the table, gathering up some of the food. "I'm gonna be up all night, I think. I have this thought. And it is a terrifying and wonderful thought, and God, I hope I'm right. But wrong, too. I'm not making any sense." She grins to Aventino and Solvek both, then nods to T'Lyt in turn.

Aventino turns back to the board and clears the data from it briskly, smiling quietly into the shining dark surface for a moment afterward and then going to pour herself a drink of pop from a pitcher. It's a couple of hours out, but still cool enough and fizzy as she drinks it. "Do we get to hear the thought, Fred? Or are you just trying to keep us in suspense?"

"I am Lieutenant T'Lyt," replies the Vulcan woman. "Welcome to Gibraltar Station, Lieutenant Commander," she says to the Engineer.

Solvek gathers his dishes and slips the PADD into a pocket. He nods to his sister in kind and looks to Brooks. "I suspect I will see you later this evening?"

"I dunno. You busy? I could use help. Y'see... I had this thought... about the Maelstrom. It went through here once before, right? Millennia ago. Just once, and there's no evidence of it before that anywhere, right? Well, hard to tell, but anyway... we know that object isn't natural.. what if it's old? Like, that old? Like... a couple hundred thousand years?" Brooks says all of this very fast while she gathers food she chose in one place.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. It's appreciated." Beginning to move, without trying to seem rude, Emory moves around T'Lyt quietly, moving toward Aventino and Brooks both, clearing his throat a little bit. "Thank y'both for letting me join the meeting. Lieutenant Aventino, I was wondering if you had time to meet up somewhere to go over the shuttles current specs with me, to see what kind of changes are gonna be done?" he asks toward Bunni, tilting his head slightly. "Shuttle tech is relatively easy, but it's been a while since I've worked on a Type Ten... which is what I'm assumin' you guys're usin' for this mission."

"I shall depart, and allow Lieutenant Aventino to discuss Project Origen with you," T'Lyt says to the Engineer, moving towards the door and farther out of his way. She, then, nods to Aventino, then to Solvek and Brooks in turn. "Lieutenant, Commander, Winifred," she says, to each, also in turn, before turning to the door.

Aventino consolidates the remaining tacos and burritos on one platter, putting the one on top of the other and then nestling the half-empty bowls of condiments among the food as she listens to Fred, then settles the nachos on top of the entire pile. "Can't you do a computer simulation of the effects of gamma radiation over time on the material the object is made of and then match the simulation results to the strain visible in your scans to try to date its first entrance into the Maelstrom cloud?" she asks, then, looking to Emory with a quirk of her brow, "Well, thanks," she chuckles, "Sure, anytime you're free." She also waves goodbye to Lieutenant T'Lyt.

Solvek seems to ponder the idea put forth by Brooks for a few moments. "If that is the case, then the only plausible answer is..." Solvek stops, and the faint traces of a smile can be seen at the corners of his mouth. "I will meet you in my office as soon as I take care of something else." Turning to Veshedsky, "Lieutenant Commander Veshedsky, I am Commander Solvek, First Officer here at Starbase 247. It is agreeable to meet you. Do you have time to go over the S.O.P. of the base?"

Nodding a little bit, Emory begins to step back, rolling his neck. "I'll be around. Just look for me," he remarks. With that, he begins to turn to be faced with the other Vulcan... Solvek. "Commander, yes, sir. I think I do. Lead the way?" he asks promptly, gesturing with his now free hand... he had finished off the taco.

Brooks looks at Solvek with a smile, eyes shining. "Exactly." She nods to Aventino. "Gonna do that. Have to prove this properly. But, ohh... if we can..." She practically bounces on her toes. "Right. Your office." Don't have to sound so disappointed, Fred. "After you're done there."

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