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Huntress Of The Warp

Posted on Sun Sep 5th, 2021 @ 4:03pm by Lieutenant Commander Evelyn Rozia

Mission: Double Bind
Location: Astraea Bridge

Out of her peripheral vision, Evelyn saw the Captain and Exec vanish into the ready room, but it was barely even worth her mind noticing. Find out how close to warp this civilization was? Were they on the cusp? Had they even started any research? She brought up the scans they'd made of things as they'd entered the system and forced her mind to remember what had been said on the bridge so far.

The station had docking ports, or had had them, for larger ships. Interplanetary travel, intrasystem. But where were said ships? How large were they? They certainly weren't in orbit of the planet. The station wasn't brand new technology, that was obvious, probably been in orbit for several decades and added to in a modular manner.

The main sensor suite was already in use, co-opted by Naomi for use in doing her Sciencey stuff (a small smile of memory of Naomi's daughter Celeste flitted through Evelyn's mind briefly), so those weren't available, but there were secondary sensors she could utilize. A handful of minutes later, Evelyn was in ownership of several scans of nearby space, the debris from the asteroid they'd noted leaving the area, the station parts that had been blasted off the thing, the remnants of habitats on the twin moons.

Habitats on the moons? She double checked the results and used the lateral array to zoom in on the wreckage. They'd been of a moderate size, probably scientific stations or perhaps even small colonies of the natives... No, that one was definitely a colony, had been a colony. While the devastation was significant, enough survived of it so that she could see what was obviously a park with residential housing on the edges. A brief check showed that this small, tiny colony rotated with the moon, so that it probably mirrored the same amount of sunlight that the planet received. There was wreckage of some solar panels, but that wouldn't be enough power for them.

So what powered them? The station was solar-powered, that had been confirmed by the scans as the ship came into range. Photovoltaics that were rather advanced and efficient. But not enough for a colony. Nuclear? Fission? Fusion? Those thoughts ran through Evelyn's mind as she keyed for a new scan, one that looked for radioactive elements. If it had been powered by a nuclear plant or a fission plant, the area would definitely show a lot of radioactivity, whereas if it were a fusion plant.. Old power generation techniques were learned, but not emphasized at the Academy and less so when serving on a starship, but...

No gross radioactivity. Sure, there was some, but it was low intensity. Analysis... Tritium. Half life of Twelve point Three years, beta type radiation, not the killing alpha type. Evie was keyed up now, because that was the byproduct of the fusion reaction, which just stopped when there was a problem, not throw around radioactive bits. A fusion reactor was a good sign, a sign that this civilization had found a very high energy power source. It was fission power that had powered Earth's first warp ship, though Trill had used a matter/antimatter reaction. Fusion? The step inbetween.

Evelyn didn't even look at the chrono on her display, she didn't know how long it had been so far, but that didn't matter. The atmosphere was layered with radioactive elements that were confounding the lateral sensors, which made Evelyn nearly ask Naomi if she could take over the primaries, which may have the power to reach through it, but wait... Evelyn isolated the signature of the worst of the radioactivity and set up a program to try to filter it out. At the moment, it didn't need to be a clean scan, she just needed to see.

She initiated a planetary scan with the lateral array, seeking major power sources and they began to stipple the planetary map she'd put on her screen. Hundreds of them were small signatures, located in city centers and a quick random visual check on an overlay confirmed they were smaller cities. Evelyn quickly took those off the map, leaving her with forty-six large power sources, all of which matched within eight percent of signatures of probably fusion power plants. That sort of variation could just be the specific technology and distribution of waste products.

So now there was a wild goose chase. If, IF this society was close to obtaining the ability to attain the capability of warp travel, at least close enough for what the Captain was so obviously hoping for, there had to be a ship. A fission device could be in a small ship, like the Phoenix from Earth, but there were no fission signatures that Evelyn could determine. Fusion power, of the level she was observing, would require something larger...

Evelyn shook her head, she needed coffee. She didn't have time for that. Where would someone build a ship? It would be a MASSIVE project, scientific, manufacturing, space. She idly flipped through the overlay for the signatures, then suddenly stopped. It wouldn't be powered from the ground... It would have to have it's own reactor! Her eyes scanned the display, eyes seeking two signatures close to each other... There!

She exhaled a breath she didn't know she was holding in, fingers trembling slightly as she selected the sole pair of signatures that weren't quite side by side, looked at the overlay and... No, that city could be powered by a single one of the two reactors. Hope sprang into her heart as she isolated the city with the lateral array and started searching. She had the general locations of both signatures, but she had to narrow them down. It was several minutes when she found the power plant that was the source of the first signature, her heart deflating as she did so. She'd hoped it wouldn't have been this disappointing. So the search began once again.

Several more minutes passed as she went frame by frame, block and building by block and building and came across one building larger than the rest. No blocky power generation complex, this, it was rounded, then she scrolled past it into... An empty field. A paved, empty field. Like a landing field for aircraft. Which meant the building was a hanger, possibly.

Another, closer detailed scan and she knew she was reaching the limits of the lateral sensor array and would likely need the primary array shortly, but she fiddled with the settings for a few moments and made the scan of the hanger, trying to delve past the protective sheath and then she saw it laid bare. It was the outline of a craft, blocky from what she could see of it, probably just a hull to contain that fusion plant, a minimum of space for a crew, and the two bulbous protrusions from the sides could be multiple things, but it could ALSO be precisely what she hoped it was!

Evelyn half stood from her seat, a half-cheer coming out of her mouth that got no attention whatsoever, then she looked up and saw why.

 

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