Obsidian Command

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Material Analysis

Posted on 28 Jun 2022 @ 6:51pm by Commander Calliope Zahn

Mission: M3 - Into the Deep
Location: OC, Docking Bay Alpha Nine
Timeline: MD03 0750HRS
1895 words - 3.8 OF Standard Post Measure

To the naked eye it was difficult to tell the technicians apart in the near identical hazard suits. Calliope looked like the rest of them, reflective yellow, fully geared with her own low profile oxygen recycling cylinder riding over her shoulders. Only a square of clear faceplate betrayed any difference besides perhaps the individual’s height and general build giving a glimpse of the to identify the face within. Conversely, from inside looking out, a transparent holo display switched through preset overlays for the hazard-gear’s occupant to view.

Calliope fully appreciated the heads up display that provided not just the running details of technical scans and radiation levels, but also hovered the rank, position and name of everyone she was working with. And while it wasn’t easy to forget she was standing right in the middle of some pretty exotic radiation, the suit was very nicely ventilated and scrubbed. Anyone sweating it was entirely feeling the stress and not just suffering stifling heat conditions in their gear. Calliope was pretty sure the sweat was quickly back through the filters before you could even sniff your own pits. All of that was just handling the particulate matter on the inside. Nothing outside was getting through short of a breaching incident with a laser cutter. Which was still a potential hazard, especially considering she was overseeing the team setting one up presently.

Thinking back to her time aboard the Paracelsus, she remembered one night when she couldn’t rest. It was a couple weeks following a humanitarian mission. She’d thought she had dealt with the trauma she had witnessed pretty well, but a few weeks later it seemed to hit her like it was as fresh as the first day she’d seen the suffering. She just couldn’t find a way to get to sleep. Instead she’d called Lance even though she didn’t especially want to rehash it and he agreed to stay up with her over subspace. With nothing to say, particularly, they tried to pick a show both of them could appreciate and usually that meant informative documentaries. Lance loved documentaries— well researched ones especially, or in the case of those that proved unimpressive, he took equal pleasure in dismembering all of the assertions made. Calliope just enjoyed the wow factor of esoteric information. That night in particular the net on Sol had been running a series about material science and they covered the latest in the UFP’s most extreme textile innovations. Calliope had teased Lance about getting him a dapper looking phaser-fire dispersing suit, like something out of a spy novel. High end tactical gear really did use energy-beam dispersing mesh, it just could use some better tailored design work for dinner parties, in Calliope’s opinion.

Libra-tex was the original material invented for modern hazardous and medical situations. The material could deform without pores or fractures, keeping the occupant completely out of the environment and the environment completely out of the occupant. With certain finishing techniques it was also radiation resistant and impenetrable by most known solvents and acid agents. The Hazmat material was un-cuttable with anything like a knife or a sharp edge, as demonstrated in the documentary’s footage of the stress tests. There were no fibers as such, not technically being a cloth, and while it had stretch and give and movement, she imagined you could probably build a ship sling shot out of the stuff and draw back far enough to fling her up to warp speed and still have the fabric return to shape. They called that memory— the ability to be deformed beyond recognition but to completely recover…

It was the gloves she loved most about the suit though. She remembered the last time she suited up in EVA for the descent down the station’s central shaft, and the difficulty she’d had grasping the railings. Besides her own failing senses, those gloves had been made for hands bigger than her own. By contrast, when she’d slipped into these, they had been comically large at first and cartoonishly floppy, until they seemed to magically zipper down and conform to her hands along invisible seams. She would have to ask the Quartermaster what kind of science was behind that trick.

While waiting for the crew to finish with the laser set up, she tapped her thumb along the tips of each gloved finger back and forth in the old stress management technique as she glanced at the countdown clock in the top corner of her augmented view.

Behind her there was a team of five scientists and engineers from just as many specialties, gathering as they had gone through the dressing and entry process into the bay. When she turned to look over her shoulder at them, the display in her helmet cast a different clock over each of them, allotting just shy of one hundred minutes each.

The crewmen setting up the laser cutter double checked the settings and ran a brief calibration series- a guide light forming around the subject, which three other crew gingerly lifted via antigrav beams maneuvered by remote control hover-probes, and laid delicately on the target plane. The chunk of debris was about twelve meters long, the wider end heavily pitted and the narrower heat slagged to a slick shine.

She waved the new team over. “This is the next item of interest. Commander Quinn’s interpretations of the initial scans lead us to believe the component may be a part of a weapons assembly.”

“It does have a high anti-proton reading,” a gruff voice said. Calliope’s viewer marked him as PO2 Whittaker. “But there are as many scientific tools as weapons that leave anti-proton traces.”

“If it has a residual anti-proton reading,” a Lieutenant demarcated as Sarah Monroe chimed in, “we can backtrack to the last time the component was charged.”

Calliope watched the linked update of Lt Monroe’s scan as it balanced various dating techniques to arrive at a highly accurate number of hours, matching fairly closely to Edgerton’s scans. “So the weapon was probably fired shortly before the ship was destroyed.” Calliope surmised out loud.

“If it is even a weapon.” Whittaker interjected, still not convinced as it didn’t appear the same as any phaser bank or energy canon he’d seen. “It has a de-compression beam intermix form in two thirds of the shaft, the exact opposite of most weapons designs. It could have been a scatter emitter or part of bigger signal array.”

“Let’s cut into it a bit and see if we can do better in making out the design than with non invasive scans.” Calliope directed.

She crossed her arms as she watched the team set the precision laser cutter for a series of layered micro incisions. The readout said the setting would take only two minutes, but she only had four left before her time would be up. It was cutting it a little too close. She needed to set a good example and not stretch the safety recommendations. Besides, Lance had made every opportunity for her to contribute. And she had enough of health complications as it was. It was time to check out.

“Alright, keep going. I will have to take six hours out of the bay before I can check back. I’ll be monitoring from Main Engineering. Lt Monroe, the team is yours.”

Calliope reset the toolkit she’d been supplied and picked it up in an almost animated look as it was much bulkier than she could normally handle except that the reduced gravity setting in the work zone made it easier to haul. She trekked through a series of foil tubes about three meters in diameter and then mag locked the tool kit to a wall in a cube juncture. The wall kit self analyzed via scan and lit green. Everything was accounted for. She put her engineering tricorder into the collection slot and it also gave an all clear. No items or data were to leave the premises. There could be no leaks of radiation *or* information.

All of her gear being checked back into the repository, a latch opened on the next portal and the light in the chamber beyond washed it all red. Calliope stood still long enough for the system to finish particle sweeping. When the light changed to ultraviolet, she began peeling off the outer shell of the hazmat suit. Each piece went into a dematerialization chute, leaving her in a skin tight silverized undergarment body sock tightly formed around all but her face. The rest of the walk she took through a long hall with sensors and decontamination arrays until she stepped into the final environmental exchange room, a transparent box roughly equating to the last stage of decompression between space and the station, but this one would beat her with sonic waves while it exchanged the last of the environment.

Outside she could see the Marines trading security watch over the entrance point and technicians delivering new lab equipment to supply Lance’s teams. Hands on her hips while grinding a toe into the decking, she stood in the middle and watched the progress lights. For some reason, this made her think back to her mother’s dishwasher. They had an out of date replication unit and only had replicator stock enough for basic staples, which didn’t come ready made, just as essential supplies, forcing them to cook. Her mother made her run the dishwasher every night rather than just disintegrate the plates and get new ones the next day. This, she felt with a bit of a smirk as she surveyed the acrylic box she stood in, must be what it feels like to be a plate on the last dry cycle.

The lock chimed and the compression seal snapped. Calliope peeled back the hood of her suit and shook her hair out as she nodded to the guard outside and walked through his security scanner. Her file came up with the check out display.

Commander Calliope Zahn
Special Assignment - Bay Alpha Nine
Executive Officer - USS Pathfinder

She cocked her head. That had to have been a user error somewhere. As it was the station's support craft, she would have automatically had access to take out the Pathfinder as OC's executive officer. But that had long since been revoked with everything else.

"Commander." The marine guarding the point nodded to her, indicating a successful log out of the hazardous work zone. He handed her a wrapped parcel- her uniform and the personal effects she had left on entry.

With silver gloved hands Calliope accepted back her things. "Thank you. If anyone needs me, I'll be in Main Engineering."

With one last glance, she watched the security display of her file vanish. It had to be a mistake. It had already been a long night up with Lance's Engineering teams, organizing the clean room set up in the Bay and selecting the specialists. They'd barely gotten started and she had a number of demanding meetings set up with Tactical and Engineering to collaborate on updates to station defenses in light of the findings as they were being made.

She had much bigger things to look into right now than a simple file update error.


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