Posted on Tue Oct 31st, 2017 @ 11:37pm by Captain Tim Williams & Lieutenant Commander Vincent Holt & Lieutenant Commander Jean Reynard & Lieutenant Commander Esmé Dumont & Lieutenant Griffen Tanol & Lieutenant Kevin Barnaby & Lieutenant Ryan North & Counselor Melony Taylor & Ensign Jonathan Forrest
The Deuterium Argument [Rebooted]
Location: USS Highlander - Briefing Room
As soon as Tim had beamed back aboard the Highlander he had convened the senior staff in the briefing room. Without any specific heading, the ship was still in orbit of the Iota Command facility; outside the viewports, Tim could easily see the large moon the facility was constructed on, but dominating the view was the gas giant of Iota II that it orbited; clouds of varying shades of purple mixed in streaks and swirls as the planet's winds created patterns in the gasses.
"So, the brief we've been given is a fairly broad one," he told everyone, once they had gathered. "We are to seek out ways of making the task force here in the delta quadrant less reliant on shipments from the alpha quadrant. Deuterium is our priority, followed by dilithium, but everything that could be of use is fair game." He swept his hands wide in front of him in a gesture inviting discussion. "Any ideas on where or what we should start looking for?"
"You can find deuterium anywhere, even gas giants like that one over there," Jean said, nodding out the window, "but the problem is separating it from regular hydrogen in an economical fashion. The water in cometary bodies generally has it at a more concentrated ratio to start with, as do planets that have taken comet impacts. Our best option would be to use long-range spectroscopy to identify systems that have a comet shell richer in deuterium than average along with planets in the liquid water zone. Ideally, a habitable one to save on construction and support costs, but the main priority is large bodies of easily pumpable water."
"We could tweak the astrometric sensors easily enough," Ryan responded. "After all they were set up with that kind of imaging in mind. Given the data that the science department reviewed prior to our arrival, I don't think that finding what we need will be all that hard. I can also cross reference initial astrometric survey results with the actual information coming in from our own long range scanners."
"Captain Thompson is quite keen for us to try to find a way to enhance the task force's fuel supply without setting up any of our own heavy machinery," Tim told them. "Setting up our own mining operation would make the task force more reliant on the alpha quadrant in the short term for the extra resources, and will take time to organise. A trading post is one option, but I think our best bet is to try to find somewhere with a mining operation already in place with people who we can do a deal with directly. Do you think you can tweak the astrometric sensors enough to be able to detect that kind of operation? Preferably an operation small enough that they won't have many pre-existing commitments for us to contend with."
"It wouldn't take much," Ryan admitted. "But sure they can be easily reconfigured for that."
"It could be worth tweaking the sensors in a similar way on the Okuda and the Jeffries and sending them out about an AU distance away from the Highlander, that way we work on triangulating any sources we detect. If the Captain gives us permission to use his personal vessel," Vincent chimed in, raising an eyebrow to the Captain.
"We could, although we'll probably get better range and resolution from the ship's sensors," Ryan commented. "They equipped us with some fairly high-resolution imaging systems before we left spacedock."
"No, I think he's on to something," Jean said. "We don't need extremely detailed scans just to locate an outpost. We're mostly looking for signs of technology, like subspace radio or old warp trails, and having extra sensors deployed at a distance would boost detection range. Then once we know where to look we can aim the long-range sensors that way."
As this was Esmé Dumont's first meeting with the senior staff, she had entered and remained mostly silent, listening to how the officers interacted with one another before interjecting. Finally, she did make an observation, her voice deep and laden with her French accent. "Most worlds that operate mining facilities are heavily dependent upon those resources either for sustenance or revenue. We should be prepared to offer them something of value."
"What do we have of value that we will be prepared to either give up or want to give up. Technological gifts could bring about possible instabilities in the region, we would need to be careful of what we give out in trade," Vincent commented, not disagreeing with Esmé's point of view, but seeing the possible issues it may bring.
"I'd have to concur with the XO on that one Sir." Kevin commented as he examined the PADD he had brought with him."Weapons and Data relating to Starfleet Operations in the Delta Quadrant are off the cards. I'd also advise that if we do trade with the natives that we don't exclusively stick to one source if we keep our options varied it'll open up more avenues for future diplomatic ties."
"We've got some raw materials aboard as replicator feedstock that might have value," Jean said. "Or for that matter, we could just replicate whatever they want from their own technology. A mining colony will probably be more interested in spare parts for their own machines than a photon warhead."
Jonathan had been taking notes, more out of habit than the necessity of the conversation. "Are these colonies we're talking about all warp-capable? We're not going to be violating the Prime Directive are we?"
"The astrometric survey they gave us of the area does have several solar systems marked that have not yet reached that stage in their development," Ryan said. "If we use the runabouts as suggested, we should be able to narrow our search pattern. I might be able to extend the range and imaging resolution if we routed the primary lateral array through the secondary deflector."
"Agreed," Holt nodded, "But we do also have to consider the resources of those civilizations not developed enough to use them. If we mine a vein of deuterium that would be vital to a race reaching warp capability we rob them of making it on their own, a clear breach of the prime directive," Vincent explained, talking to the expansive reach of the prime directive, "Mining operations already established would be our best avenue, no doubt."
"I've always found interpretations of the directive based on far-off possibilities a bit dubious," Jean said. "Not that I'm arguing for harassing some pre-warp civilization, of course, but anyone who's set up a deterium refinery outside their home system's fair game."
"If we're making First Contact, perhaps," Jonathan replied, "I mean you would think that they're at least aware of the possibility of other cultures. However, I'm just suggesting caution. We don't want to find ourselves on a slippery slope."
"Before we start arguing about if we should be interfering with different cultures we should probably find one, we can have an ethics discussion when we reach that point, before then its irrelvent, who knows we might come across someone who really needs a trade partner." Melony interjected before an arguement could begin.
"Well that settles it then," Vincent said, slightly surprised at the unfamiliar voice of the counsellor in the discussion, turning to the Captain, "You've been pretty quiet there Chie.. sir, your call."
Tim had sat listening for the most part, rubbing his finger along his lower lip as he considered the points everyone had been raising. He'd also been happy just to observe his command staff - some of whom were new, while others had been with the ship for a while now - having a lively and productive discussion among themselves. It bode well for their future missions in the delta quadrant. "You all make good points," he said at last. "And yes, Starfleet weapons are definitely off the table for any negotiations, that's a given," he added, pointing briefly to his security officer.
"I'd like to keep pre-warp civilisations off the list, for all the concerns already raised. We don't want to go interferring with the development of civilisations here or dropping the bombshell of extra-terrestrial life on them just because they happen to be sitting on top of the nearest gas station. If they've made it out of their local system, then we'll just have to asses where we think they are and how much of an impact us making contact will have on their culture."
Now he leant forward, resting both his arms on the table. "Using the runabouts to extend our range is a good idea. Any improvement of our understanding of the local area will be beneficial, even if it doesn't find us what we need here and now. Vincent, I want you to organise a team for each of the Okuda and the Jeffries, and Ryan, I want you and Grif to see what you can do to improve their sensor capabilities along with the Highlander's. And make sure the teams know that if they scuff the paint jobs on either ships, they'll have to buff the hull until it shines."
Vincent gave a subtle nod to the Captain as he continued his explanation.
"Shouldn't be too hard, both of the runabouts are old by refiting them with some spare parts for our new sensors we can easily upgrade their efficency by at least 30% maybe more. I've been tinkering with the design as is so I think we can get it up to maybe 50%." Grif said as she spoke for the first time that meeting. She could have made excuses but honestly she had simply been engrossed in her datapad going over the results of their run to the Delta Quadrant.
"Jean; I want you and the Quartermaster to go over the supplies we have aboard; make a list of anything that you think we could use for trade, and how much we could afford to give away. Go through the technical database and replicate any spare parts which you think might be useful to have on hand; things that can be easily retrofitted into all sorts of systems without having to be specifically designed for it. Based on Voyager's reports, efficiency and re-use of waste are both things that the techology around here appear to lack, so you might want to focus on related tech."
"I'll see what we can dig up," Jean said with a nod. "If nothing else, I've still got a full technical readout from our NX adventure, and nothing in there should be too sensitive to share."
"I also want you to monitor local subspace communications and warp trail eddys, coordinating with the runabouts. Any cultural centres, trade planets, or whispers of trading outposts and the like, I want you to put a dot on the map. Even if we can't follow up every lead ourselves, the more leads we can send back to Iota, the better for the task force."
"As for what else can offer in trade, Captain Thompson has left me quite a bit of leeway there. From my perspective, I definitely don't want to be giving any races in the region technology beyond what they're currently capable of, but we can work with them to improve upon technology that they already have. Grif, it'll be worth brushing up on your knowledge of mining equipment; we may need to reel ideas to improve whatever we see on the fly. Esmé, Melony; I'd like to work with the both of you to come up with potential negotiating strategies; how best to win over the kind of people we're most likely to be dealing with, potentially how to work with people who may feel apprehensive about a ship like the Highlander showing up, that sort of thing."
Esmé gave a simple, affirming nod of her head as she made a couple of notes on her PADD.
Grif nodded, "Ill see what we've got. I believe Voyager had some files on mining operations in the quadrant and they seemed mostly similar to ours depending on the region. Shouldnt be to hard to figure out some upgrades we could make to their systems. Most of it will be pretty contextual based though ."
"See what can be found in what remains of the Equinox logs too, that may have some information, fill in some blanks and potentially give us some further leads," Holt suggested, referring to the other Starfleet vessel that had an ill fated jaunt into the Delta Quadrant.
"Good idea," the Tim agreed, nodding at his XO's suggestion. The Equinox wasn't often talked about in Starfleet circles due to how they carried themselves out in the quadrant, but their logs still held valuable information.
"And one more thing," Tim added, addressing everyone collectively again now. "I'd like our bargaining position to be as strong as it can be, and as part of that I'm going to restrict the use of the transporters and the slipstream drive to minimal usage. Most of the races around here don't have those technologies, and if we beam down in a haze of glittering light, they're not going to want anything we offer them unless it includes that technology. If we invite anyone aboard for a tour, that goes for the replicators too for the duration of their visit." He paused, ensuring that everyone had a chance to raise any questions or objections to that point. "Anyone have any other points?"
"Then let's get going," the captain said, when nobody spoke up. "Jonathan, get a heading from Iota that hasn't been explored yet by any of the task force ships and set a course. Let's get to work people."
Captain Tim Williams
Lt. Commander Vincent Holt
Lt. Commander Jean Reynard
Chief Operations Officer & Second Officer
Lt. Commander Esmé Dumont
Lieutenant Ryan North
Chief Science Officer
Lieutenant Griffen Tanol
Lieutenant Kevin Barnaby
Chief of Security
Counselor Melony Taylor
Ensign Jonathan Forrest