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Surveying the Bay

Posted on Sat Jun 15th, 2019 @ 9:14am by Lieutenant Wale Scholl Ph.D. & Ensign Jane Sinclair

Mission: Between the Pages
Location: Shune Bay

Wale looked out at the bay from his small balcony and tapped the edge of his data PaDD. Something was bothering him about the way the ecosystem was evolving around the wreckage of the fallen Andorian cruiser, but his own scanners weren't sensitive enough. The sensor drones they'd used earlier were also useless underwater. He needed to get closer and take better readings, but it was too deep for a free dive, and his portable equipment wasn't sensitive enough.

He tapped the comm unit built into the PaDD.

"Wale Scholl to Jane Sinclair. Can you spare a moment?"

Meanwhile, Jane was in her garage — it was the colony’s civilian spaceport’s repair and maintenance area, but she lived in the building next door and thought of it as hers — tinkering with some equipment when the call came in. She tapped her commbadge with grease-covered fingers. “Sinclair here. What can I do for you, Lieutenant?”

"Off duty, it's Wale," he emphasized. "Rumor mill has it you've got quite a collection of flying things in your shed. Got anything submersible?"

Jane smiled and bit her lower lip. She stepped outside and looked around at the ship’s available to her. She saw one shuttle from Shanghai that could be made fully submersible with little work. “Give me an hour and I will,” she answered. “Can you make your way to me, Wale?”

"Absolutely," he replied. "See you in one hour."

The channel closed, Jane picked up a spanned and approached the Garneau, a Type-18 shuttlepod from Shanghai that currently sat docked in her park. “It’s okay, girl. I’ll be gentle.”

- - - -

Close to one hour had passed when Wale walked into Jane's shop. Wearing steel grey cargo shorts and a blue T-shirt with cut-off sleeves with the Starfleet Science Academy logo that had seen better days, he was carrying a large bag, containing a handful of data PaDDs and portable scanning equipment.

He looked around the shop to find the young pilot. "Jane?" he called out.

“Out here!” Jane’s voice carried to Wale from the open garage door. She was crouching on top of the shuttle, welding reinforcements to its impulse engines. She stood and waved to Wale. “I’m just finishing up, then give me two minutes to change, yeah?”

"No problem."

He circled the shuttle, running his hand over the smooth hull. "This is great work," he said. "How deep can she go?"

Jane climbed down the shuttle and looked at Wale running his hands on the hull. "I don't touch your girlfriends, Wale. Don't touch mine." She then grinned widely. "Kidding. She'll handle any ocean depth on Golovin, and could probably get mighty deep into a gas giant." She gestured toward the interior garage space and walked inside, washing her hands with some degreaser. "You have the coordinates for where you want to go, yeah?"

"Actually not very far. I want to do a visual recon around that Andorian wreckage in the Bay. There seems to be some magnetic ore below the surface that's blocking my tricorder scans, so I need to get a lot closer. I think the shuttle's sensors should suffice, but I also have some portable equipment we can use. It's just a bit too deep and too bulky for a free dive."

"Sounds good," Jane said. Hands clean, she began to unzip her coveralls and pull them down. She walked to a small closet space as she did so, wherein a clean black tee-shirt and blue denim pants awaited her. She paid no regard to the man in her garage as the coveralls cleared her torso and then hips, leaving her in a black lace bra and sexy black panties.

"Should I start getting my gear on board?" he asked, unfazed by Jane's state of undress. He was comfortable with his own body, and had absolutely no qualms about doing the same. He appreciated working with someone who felt the same way.

"Please do," Jane said as she pulled her jeans up. "The main hatch should be unlocked." She quickly pulled her shirt over her head, grabbed a handful of tools, and followed Wale to the shuttle.

Wale pressed the control panel by the side of the hatch. The panel slid open, and he hefted his bag inside. This would be a first for him, exploring an oceanic environment in a modified shuttle - he was used to doing that in specialized vehicles, designed specifically for those needs. He took a seat in the co-pilot's seat, and accessed the sensor array to power up the system and run a preliminary self-diagnostic.

A moment later, Jane stepped in, putting her tools in a cubby before sitting down in the pilot's seat. "Strap yourself in, Wale. These things aren't designed for the water, so there might be some turbulence." She closed the hatch and activated the launch sequence. "So how have you been settling in on Golovin?"

"I can't say I had much time to settle in just yet," said Wale as he punched the diagnostic commands into his console. "I did get the keys to my new place yesterday. It's nice, by the beach just as I hoped, with direct access to the Bay. But it's overlooking that wreckage. How about you? How long have you been on Golovin?"

“I arrived just as the Shanghai was coming back here from Cyen,” Jane answered. “Lifting off now.” The shuttle began to rise and she angled it towards the Bay before activating main thrusters. “I live just down there, in a studio next to the garage and the control tower. Right next to my toys. Won’t be too long until we’re at the bay. I’ll need you to navigate once we go under.”

"Nice," he said as he looked out at the small house. "We both got housing next to the things we love."

He punched a few controls to confirm the diagnostic and accessed the navigation controls. "Ready."

“Approaching the Bay now,” Jane said. She looked out at the viewscreen and admired the view. This was a very pretty planet. In a lot of ways it reminded her of the Proximan countryside. Families could grow out here. Maybe even her own one day. “Brace yourself for sea surface impact in three, two, one.” The shuttle shook as Jane took it into the bay.

She activated a pair of forward lights on the Garneau, which illuminated the undersea environment in front of them. “Okay, Wale, where to?”

"Take us slowly around that crashed Andorian ship, and stay within ten meters of the ocean floor," Wale indicated. "I want both sensor scans and a visual survey of the ground."

"Understood," replied Jane. "We're at one-half of our recommended underwater cruising speed. I've got the sensors scanning the bay floor, but I'll need my eyes on the road, so you'll need to do the visual survey." The shuttle slowly flew around the hull of the Andorian ship, sensors pointed down while the viewports generally stayed facing the ship. Something caught Jane's eye which she pointed to. "Wale, what's that?" she asked, pointing to a black mass on the sea floor near the hull.

Wale centered the viewscreen on the mass and magnified the image. He focused the sensors on it and examined the findings. "It's some kind of sea mammal - or at least it was. It's been dead for some time. I'm surprised there's so little decomposition. I'm picking up a lot of chemical contaminants in the surrounding soil, but the ore is interfering with sensors. I'll have to take soil samples."

He pointed to another area farther around the hull. "Look over there," he said. There was a clear discoloration of the soil in the area he was indicating.

“I see it,” Jane replied. “Moving closer.” She adjusted the pitch of the shuttle and brought them very close indeed, a meter above the discoloration, facing it directly. “We don’t have manipulator arms, and I doubt you have diving equipment among your Kit. But we can beam some soil and water samples into containers.”

Wale nodded. "I'll place some markers as well, so that I can send drones to physically collect additional samples if I need them." He scanned as best he could. "There's definitely heavy contamination there. It looks like plasma coolant."

“Good idea,” Jane said. “I’ve got us stable here if you want to transport out the markers and in the samples.” As she deftly maintained their holding pattern, she smiled in Wale’s direction. So what do you think of Golovin and our Shanghai crew so far?”

"I haven't had much of a chance to get to know people since I got here, what with the sweep of the ship and the thing down at the outpost. But my first impression is that it's a very fine crew. As for the planet, I think it's a wonderful place, but it has a deep scar here that needs to be tended to."

He tapped his console, and the transporter hummed to life. Sample containers in the aft compartment filled with soil samples. He got out of his seat and placed location markers on the transporter pad before beaming them out again.

"Ok. We can keep circling the cruiser," he directed. "What about you?" he asked as the shuttle started moving again.

“I was barely aboard a day before Shanghai put in for the scans,” Jane said. “I haven’t even sat behind the helm station yet! But I’ve gotten to know the crew. They’re incredibly welcoming to those of us who aren’t from their timeline. The Captain is very friendly, and Christine has become a great friend of mine.” She adjusted the thrusters of the shuttle to continue their trajectory around the Cruiser. “And Golovin is beautiful. I could see planting roots here, to be honest. And the girl I’m seeing is a local horticulturalist.”

"That's nice," replied Wale. "From what I've seen, the Shanghai has a state-of-the-art aeroponics bay. Maybe I should ask her for assistance if we want to create an arboretum based on Golovin's flora."

“That’s a damn good idea,” Jane said. She gave the scientist a wide smile. “Are you a romantic, by any chance, Wale?”

"I don't know what you're talking about," replied Wale with a side grin. He looked up from his console and out the viewport. "Look," he said.

They saw a group of what looked like Earth manta-rays, but with four wings instead of two, swimming elegantly about a meter above the ocean floor, on a slow approach toward the crashed Andorian cruiser. About twenty meters from the ship, the leader of the pack swerved promptly away from the wreckage, followed by the group.

“They’re beautiful,” Jane commented. “But what has them staying away from the wreckage like that? They veered away so suddenly.”

Wale tapped his console for a few minutes before answering, trying to get the shuttle's sensors to compensate for the presence of the ore below the surface. "It's not really clear," he said at last. "There definitely is some contaminant in the water, and it's coming from that wreckage. It's more concentrated the closer we get to the hull. I can't tell what it is, but it's clearly disturbing them. I'll have to take water samples as well."

Wale activated the transporter once again, and another batch of containers filled with water samples. He entered the containers' numbers into his notes to document the origin of their contents.

Jane’s console began to chime. “I’m getting some strange magnetic readings ahead. I’m wondering if there’s some heavy metals are leaching into the water. There’s a lot of corrosion over there, on the port nacelle.”

Wale nodded his acknowledgement even as he turned the sensors on the area Jane had pointed out. "Aye," he confirmed. "I'm reading thallium isotopes seeping into the water... Dicobalt and yttrium, which are byproducts of duranium decay. The hull of that ship is degrading because of the seawater, and contaminating the ocean."

He could feel the bile rising in his throat with frustration. The sea was wounded, hurt by the stab of this ship stabbing into the ocean floor. He was now convinced, more than ever, that they needed to do something about it.

"We'll fix this problem, Wale," Jane reassured her new friend as she wiped a tear from her eye. "We'll remove that ship, clear the contamination, and restore life to how it was." She was rather surprised to hear herself use the word 'we'. She cared about the planet, but hadn't been as passionate about solving this problem until they saw the mess up close.

Wale nodded, his lips pressed hard together as he tried to contain his emotions. He tapped a few controls to make sure he had all the readings he needed, and packed them up in one neat package that he transmitted to the Shanghai for deeper analysis.

"Yes, we will," he confirmed, his voice barely above a hoarse whisper. "Take us back to the surface, please."

Jane silently nodded and slowly pitched the shuttle up towards the surface, ready to take them home.

:OFF

Ensign Jane Sinclair
Chief Flight Control Officer, USS Shanghai

Lieutenant Wale Scholl, Ph.D.
Chief Science Officer, USS Shanghai

 

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