Mission 1 - Black Holes and Revelations
Personal Log | Rear Admiral Niana Tondro
Nepenthes XII is known to be a veritable paradise, and in truth I was excited to finally get the chance to visit such a rich, tropical biome. Our trip out there was supposed to be a fourteen day, uneventful trip at high warp. I was looking forward to two weeks of catching up on field research papers, and reading the proposal for a few new starship classes. My own staff even has a backlog of work about 2 weeks long. So all in all, it was going to be a unique opportunity to play some catch up, and I certainly didn’t need any help preparing for a conference on advanced stellar cartography.
Two days into our trip, we picked up what you could call a very loud subspace transmission. I’ve searched the historical databases for something similar, and it looks like on Earth there was a sound called “the Bloop,” a massive underwater soundwave caused by ice shelf calving in the late 20th century. It threw everyone in a state of awe, wonder, and scientific furor. It’s been much the same for my staff. While the scientific staff of the Lili’uokalani is large, I put my own personal staff on it. I’ve asked Captain Farro to assign anyone he can spare from the science teams, but I suspect he’ll have them dealing with other matters. We’ve gone through a month’s worth of Raktajino in the last 48 hours alone.
Early this morning, we deciphered the message. It contained spatial coordinates, and the first portion of the complex algorithm for quantum slipstream travel, something that’s only theoretically possible for us. Additionally, the message was sent simultaneously in Breen, Horta, and Tholian. All non-humanoid languages.
It goes without saying we’re now on our way to the coordinates of our “Bloop.” I’ve cancelled my appearance at the conference, per the request of Starfleet Science. I’m certain the Daystrom Institute can find someone else to bore junior scientists with 10 year old sensor data from the Federation Core Worlds.
Bridge | USS Lili’uokalani
“Coming up on the coordinates now, Commander,” the Betazoid man at the helm announced, his fingers flying across the console as the gargantuan Odyssey class starship dropped out of warp. “Bringing us into stable orbit around...standby.” After a few awkward moments of silence, he continued, “I could use some sensor data please. We’re being pulled like a gravity well, but we have this mapped as a standard star system.”
Commander Nushif Ejoma, the vessel’s Bajoran First Officer, stood from her seat, and walked across the expansive bridge to the helm station. She glanced over the man’s shoulder for a moment, and furrowed her brow.
“Lieutenant Balboa deLeon, can we…”
“It’s coming through now, Commander,” the young man at the science station interrupted. “Patching the pertinent data through to the helm console. Though you should probably get the Admiral and the Captain up here, there’s something else out there that they’ll want to see.”
“Understood, but one thing at a time,” Nushif responded. She looked at the sensor data as it started splaying across the screen. “There we go. You were right Plaze,” she said, placing a friendly hand on the helmsman’s shoulder. “Use the thrusters to trim our approach, slow to one-quarter impulse, and bring us broadside toward the black hole. It looks like there’s an accretion disc, and some kind of object orbiting. Let’s see if we can duck in behind the object and use it to shield us from the worst of the pulling.”
“Yes ma’am,” he replied.
Nushif returned to the command seat, and punched the intercom, announcing: “Captain Farro, Admiral Tondro, to the bridge. We’ve arrived.”
The doors to the Ready Room swished open, and Captain Thomas Farro walked out first, a mug of hot tea in his hand. He crossed the expansive bridge, sitting in the center seat, as Admiral Tondro sat in the mission advisor’s seat next to him. This was common practice for the two of them, and they’d settled into it as a routine. Tondro had no desire to take command of the ship, as that was Farro’s job, but he enjoyed having her input and quick decisions on hand.
“What do we have?” Farro asked as he took a sip of his tea.
“I’ll let Simon go first,” the Bolian man at the Ops station responded first, “but when you’re ready, there’s a repeating broadcast coming from whatever it is orbiting this place.”
“Thank you sir,” the science officer responded with a friendly tone. “I’m still collating the sensor data, but preliminary scans show a massive installation. It’s about...five times the size of a Spacedock. Sensors can’t determine what type of alloy it’s made from, but I can tell you it’s nothing in our database. I’d rather let Commander Hrzlthrp make that determination, as I’m no engineer. Let’s see...there are numerous small craft docked along the ring structure, as well as 172 docking stations large enough to support a Romulan Warbird. So...we could theoretically dock.”
“Ring structure? Lieutenant, do we have visual on this installation?” Farro asked, turning in his seat to face his science officer.
“We do, bringing it on screen now,” he replied.
As the viewscreen adjusted, a massive space station appeared, looming large on the screen. The main portion of the installation was a curved pylon, reminiscent of a Cardassian mining station, but with more mass. A saucer-like central hull curved out from the middle point of the pillar, forming a full enclosed circle from one end to the other. A soft, lavender light pulsed from several windows around the complex, and more of them began to pulse slowly on as the ship continued her approach.
“It’s beautiful,” Tondro said under her breath. “Commander Jiartun, I’d like to hear the message they’re broadcasting please.”
The Bolian man smiled, and pressed a few commands into his console.
_“Welcome, outsiders, to the Reliquary: ancient bastion of the Builders and their great work. Know that you approach a closed system, unseen by outside eyes in ten-thousand time cycles. In the spirit of knowledge, the spirit of exploration, and the spirit of curiosity, welcome.” _
Tondro, through a grin, leaned over and replied, “That sounds like an invitation if I’ve ever heard one.”
“It sounds like an introduction more than an invitation, but they haven’t fired on us or locked weapons, if they have any, which is always a good sign.” Captain Farro responded.
“They have weapons, sir,” Lieutenant Balboa deLeon replied from the science station. “There are hundreds of weapon placements on both the central pylon and the ring, both energy and concussive. They all seem dormant. In fact, the entire station seems dormant...and sirs, I’m not reading any life signs.”
“I’d like to return their hail, please,” Tondro said, standing. “Life signs or no, this could be the xenoarchaeological find of the century. We’re out here to explore. We already have to update the stellar cartography for this sector, we might as well put something of note in it.”
“You’re patched through, Admiral,” Jiartun responded.
A soft tone chimed. Tondro cleared her throat softly, and announced: “This is Admiral Niana Tondro of the Federation of Planets’ Starfleet. We received your burst communication while en route to a conference, and frankly...we are in awe of what your people have accomplished in the creation of this station. We have nothing this big, nothing this elegant in our civilization. The mission of the Federation is to seek out new life, and new civilizations, make peaceful contact, and share our experiences and knowledge with them. Is your ‘great work’ similar in nature?”
The bridge was silent for a moment before the response came. Language parsed through translation matrices X-96 and U-033. Your response has been cataloged in the Reliquary’s databases. The great work of the Builders is multi-faceted in nature. It consists of cataloguing, exploring, data processing, and invention.
Admiral Niana Tondro of the Federation, for the sake of clarity and understanding, know that you do not address a sentient biological lifeform, and none exist onboard Reliquary. The Builders, the first race to achieve sentience in the galaxy, are long gone. What remains here is an archive of their great work, and my continuation of it, as is my mandate. I am Reliquary Intelligence Voss.
“Yes, we detected that on our sensors,” Tondro responded. “What can you tell me about The Builders?”
The Builders, in their great wisdom, knew that races would arise into sentience but not until long after they themselves were extinct. Thus, they mandated that their great work be passed on to the children of the galaxy, those with the same love of knowledge, love of exploration, and the pursuit of peace that their civilization was founded on. I am unable to continue this mandate to its full extent in my current operational state, and it was not the intent that I continue it alone. Any species capable of discovering The Reliquary would have the technology to be able to continue, although not necessarily possess the same ideological goals as The Builders.
“I think I understand,” Tondro responded, with a nod. “And I think our civilization has historically fit those goals and descriptors, though the last 15 years have stalled our exploration mandate. Voss, may we be permitted to come aboard? Finding you out here feels like fate, and from a species as long-lived as mine, fate is a hard thing to believe in.”
Species self-designated El-Aurian. Status: Threatened. Average lifespan: approximately 64.84 time cycles beyond average. Admiral Niana Tondro of the Federation, before you are permitted to board, do you accept the following terms? Will you carry the mantle of the Builders, and continue their Great Work?
This was the coin flipping in the air, and Tondro knew it. Could she, would she accept this on behalf of the entire Federation of Planets? On behalf of the remnants of the Romulan Star Empire? On behalf of the Breen Confederacy? All of sentience could be interested in this station, there could be a wealth of information that would be beneficial to the whole galaxy, not just her crew, or her Starfleet, or her Federation.
“But we got here first, Admiral,” Plaze said from the helm station. “And that should count for someth...I’m sorry sir, you were uh, broadcasting.”
Tondro smiled, and replied, “It’s alright Lieutenant.” Truthfully she didn’t care that the man had read her thoughts. She rarely found it as invasive as other species did when a Betazoid read their thoughts, and in this case it was a good snap back to reality. “You’re right anyway.”
She nodded to Jiartun, and continued her communique. “Voss: on behalf of the United Federation of Planets, we accept your terms. The vessel we arrived on is my personal flagship, and I have a wealth of intelligent, compassionate, and inquisitive beings aboard. I’m certain that with your knowledge and our expertise, we can find a common ground, and potentially even make necessary repairs. Please allow us to dock, and come aboard. We’re so excited to meet you.”