Below sea level

Cl.01.13 – As Calyssa listened to her former first officer about her first experiences as a commanding officer herself, she nibbled away her Spanish potato-omelette, accompanied by a small Niçoise salad. She had mixed feelings about it all, having to say good bye to a first officer she came to rely on for several good years was something she did not look forward to, on the other hand, the fact that Alyxx is stepping up to lead a crew of her own.”Let’s just say that I cannot wait to get them off my ship. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that their presence is advantageous our cause but why in hell do they have to be aboard my ship? I have enough on my hands as it is, getting the Callisto through her rather rigourous shake down.” Calyssa soon realized that she was ranting instead of making conversation. She cleared her head and leaned forward.  “Let me give you a piece of obligatory and unwanted advice as your previous CO: Don’t have your XO take over your ship. Stay on top of things and if Commander Whyte does something you don’t like, be sure to let him know.” She said, stirring her cup of tea. “I will keep that in mind.” Alyxx said, placing her cup against her lips. “Any idea what Daniel will put your crew of ‘misfits’ up with as first mission?” “I have no idea. I foresee that it will take some time before the bunch has made its way to The Reach. Once they are all aboard, we’ll see what the Admiral has in store for us.” came the ever wise reply Calyssa came to expect from Alyxx. She nodded. “That gives you plenty time to get used to your ship.” “She is small but formidable. Plenty of science facilities to do what we do best.” Alyxx smiled. “Good to hear. I am already looking forward to our first joint mission.” Calyssa emptied her cup. “As am I. Now if you excuse me, I am due back on the bridge of my ship.” Alyxx got up and made her way to the exit of the diner. “We’ll keep an open comm link, Captain.” Calyssa said, somewhat louder, allowing Alyxx to hear what she had to say. A nod a smile later, Alyxx left towards the nearest turbolift.

“Damn it…” Several soft swears later, a rather frustrated Commander Faulckner left the cockpit of the transport shuttle that had been selected to deliver the delegation to the Chozo Library in a few hours time. “What is the matter?” Lieutenant C’riss who was covering every inch with her tricorder noted the rather explosive condition of her superior officer. “Those damn navigational deflectors, I cannot get them properly synced. I have been at it for hours now and still…” She was ready to throw something away. “With permission, leave it for a while and come back to it. You’ll see.” “How far along are your security scans?” Susannah exited the modified Argo class shuttle which was fully prepped for the transport of larger groups of people over shorter distances. “I have covered most of it, I only need to do the EPS grid and then I am able to declare this shuttle 100% safe and UFP-President proof.” A smile appeared on the golden furred Lieutenant’s face and as a consequence a row if impressive incisor teeth appeared. “And then it needs to be re-checked by another security team.” Susannah shook her head. “Why do we do this anyway, sometimes I just feels like a waste of resources.” “What do you mean?” C’riss asked. “Having high ranking officials tagging along.” “I thought that you were a diplomat?” “I minored in interstellar diplomacy. I am first and foremost a pragmatist.” Susie smiled. “I go and have another try at those damned deflectors.”

Several hours later, around 1900 hrs, Susannah found herself seated in the left hand chair of the cockpit, going over the controls one more time. Though she was a class 5 rated pilot, having to steer a shuttle that was carrying the highest ranked citizen of the Federation was something that made a short stint like this quite a daunting challenge. “Atmospheric thruster manifolds are perged. Outlet valves are checked and open.” She muttered to herself, going over the overhead checks on more time. “Are you ready, Commander?” A stout officer with long white hair, held together in a ponytail came through the shuttle outer hatch. For his species he was on the shorter side, compared to other individuals of the same gender, standing tall about 1 meter 75. His torso was properly worked out and his face carried some deep grooves of life experience with grace. A short mustache ran over his upper lip, along the corners of his mouth, down to his chin, where his mustache went back to his neck. He had large white and thick eyebrows and sparkling yellow eyes. His uniform carried the rank insignia of those belonging to a Commander. “Just about, Commander.” Susie had identified Commander Kobrrei without looking. The low voice was enough for her that her direct commanding officer had arrived at the scene. “They are about 5 minutes out. I suggest you start the prelaunch sequences.” Kobrrei said, standing behind the pilot’s chair in the cockpit area. Susie nodded and started to prepare the shuttle for launch, while from a distance the group of VIPs were slowly approaching the shuttle.

“We have prepared a personnel transport for your ride down to Nerey’N III.” Daniel said, walking ahead of all the other officials. The Starfleet Admirals were clustering together while the President’s Cabinet were following him in his wake. It made Susie chuckle to see that also in real life there was a gap between the politicians and the ones that were selected to execute the politicians laws. “Have a seat, we are ready to go underway in less than three minutes.” Commander Kobrrei requested the delegates that came into the shuttle to take a seat. The last to enter was Captain Aelyn who properly checked wether the hatch was sealed and air tight. As soon as she got a green light, she walked through the isle to the cockpit area where she took a seat next to Commander Faulckner. “Everyone is aboard, I suggest we leave.” Calyssa said after getting seated. Susie nodded and requested clearance. “Cleared for departure. Commander, she is all yours.” Calyssa said. “Launch procedures underway.” Susie said and with a medium burst of the thruster assembly, the shuttle cleared the ground as it slowly maneuvered itself to the large force field that separated the flight bay to the void of space outside.

Commander Kobrrei was seated with his face facing the rear end of the shuttle. In front of him, Admiral West was seated. He seemed to be completely immersed in a conversation with Admiral Nayagi who was asking questions about the Nerey’N system. Though Li had read about the Nerey’N system in detail but he had never visited one of the planets or moons. In fact, he has only been to the Nerey’N system once before his assignment on the Callisto. It was not that long ago when Captain Aelyn was doing interviews with the candidate XO’s she had selected. After the interview, which took no longer than 30 minutes, was over, he took the first transport back to the Cestus system. Now that he was assigned to The Reach, he made mental note to visit the planets of the system as soon as opportunity arrises and he was about to tick of the first box of his list, Nerey’N III. The planet itself was an O class pelagic planet with more than 90% of its surface covered by oceans. According to the reports, there was animal life on the planet, in contrast to Nerey’N II. The shuttle approached the planet using thrusters only. Susie had to bridge a distance of no more than 2.500 kilometers before they penetrated the upper layer of the planet’s atmosphere. As Li looked outside, he could see the shuttle starting to glow brightly red, indicating that planetary entry protocols were under way. Several minutes later, the shuttle was no more than 10 kilometers above the ground and the oceans he could see from the shuttle’s small windows were deep blue. Slowly the shuttle approached the ocean itself and as soon as Li thought that they were about to slam into the water, the shuttle submerged itself without losing any speed. The continuation of their short journey to the Chozo’s master archive could continue under water.

Susie switched on the head lights of the shuttle, just below the cockpit windows. Bright jets of white light illuminated their path into the depths of the ocean and as they went deeper and deeper it became increasingly dark around them. As the shuttle continued its descent throught the water, Susie made small adjustments to the structural integrity field of the craft, allowing it to cope with the increasing pressure of the water around them. About 7 minutes later, she was able to see the bottom of the ocean below her. “Current depth, 11.500 meters.” she reported as Captain Aelyn, seated next to her tried to spot any navigational marks she remembered from her previous visits. “After that rise, descent into that trench and follow it for about a kilometer.” Calyssa instructed. Susie spotted the rise in the ocean floor and with a short nod she acknowledged her instructions. After navigating through the trench for another minute or so, the shuttle arrived at a large opening in the wall of the trench. Without asking, Susie knew she had to take the shuttle inside. Though the head lights were pretty bright, she could barely see 50 meters ahead as soon as they entered the opening. “We should be approaching the dampening field.” Calyssa said. “I am scanning for its frequency.” An energy field separated the under water cavern that housed the Library from the rest of the world of Nerey’N III to maintain its secrecy throughout millennia. Its rotating frequency made it difficult to penetrate the field but once the shield emitter’s frequency matched the modulation of the field variance, a small craft would be able to enter. Several seconds later, Calyssa had entered the modulation pattern into the shuttle’s computer and silently the shuttle passed the dampening field. The shuttle was now inside the Library.

Commander Kobrrei was one of the last to leave the shuttle. The group of Starfleet officials and Federation dignitaries were standing at the edge of a large underground lake so smooth and calm that the surface of the lake appeared to be made of glass instead of water. The cavern they found themselves into was lined with equally smooth crystalline rock. Captain Aelyn was walking towards a crevice in the rock face. She leaded the party through it and after a two minute walk, they were standing inside a cavern that was even larger and more beautiful than the one from before. Li looked up, noticing how the cavern’s ceiling appeared to be carrying stars. Since they were deep under the bedrock bottom of this planet’s ocean floor, he reached the conclusion that the stars in the sky must be a vein of gemstones running along the surface of the ceiling wall. He noticed how the floor gave rise to a polished path or road that headed towards the heart of the cavern. Following the rest of the group along the road, he gazed at the Chozo statues that were now appearing on either side of the road. Each statue was about 2 meters 50 high, each representing an avian specimen of the Chozo species. Each statue had a different posture but one thing that all of them had in common was that they were holding a sphere in their talons. The group reached a point in the road where the floor started to go down. Several levels of terraces were carved out of the floor wall and now that their eyes had adjusted to the limited illumination, they could see that each terrace was decorated with similar statues, evenly spaced out with an approximated distance of about 50 meters between each statue.

“Welcome to the Library.” Calyssa said out loud, now that everyone in the rear of the group had caught up. “You might have noticed that statues along the way. After close study, we have come to the conclusion that each statue is unique and carries a single sub molecular signature that seem to be shared with a twin statue somewhere in a shrine in Chozo territory. That statue is home of something that we are used to call a shard.”

“Please could you elaborate a bit more on the shards?” Admiral Nayagi interrupted the Captain and she obliged. “Of course, Admiral.” she replied while continuing forward slowly. “The Chozo’s main thrive of existence seemed to be the acquisition and documentation of knowledge. At some point in time, when they realized that their existence as a dominant factor in this part of the galaxy would come to an end, they spend their time in carefully dividing their knowledge, technology and lore in bite size data sets they have stored in some kind of bioneural data storage fluid. Each Chozo sphere is nothing more than a vessel that can contain such a shard. The Chozo realized that their knowledge could be very dangerous in the wrong hands so they carefully stored their shards in well hidden places in their realm. It requires knowledge, deduction and proper exploring to find them. Until now, no one has been able to find more than three or four while being able to figure out what to do with it. You can imagine that the legend of this place caught our immediate attention several years ago when we embarked on this expedition.” The group seemed to be nodding, understanding her point of view.

They had now entered an opening in large monolithic structure inside the heart of the cavern. The entered a half-dome shaped room with in the middle a circular shaped console. “This is what this is all about, ladies and gentlemen.” Calyssa said, logging into the console. Several seconds later a holopad in the center of the console became active and started to project a three dimensional projection of the Chozo realm on the half dome shaped roof above them. Calyssa took a piece of technology from the center of the console. It resembled something like a diadem. She placed it on her head and allowed the system to interface. “With this device I can direct the Library’s computer to do pretty much anything I want.”

“Intriguing.” the soft sound of the President’s voice was subtle, but loud enough for Li to hear and he had to agree with his assessment. Slowly, he started to realize that his decision to apply for the position of the first officer aboard the Callisto might have been one of his best decisions in his career. “For instance, about three weeks ago, the crew of the U.S.S. Palatine managed to extract a shard from a shrine on a lifeless asteroid near the Felwar homeworld of Ooroo.” In the mean time Calyssa accessed the directory that was found inside of the shard. “The shard that was found contains information on the refinement process of the metallic compound umbricite which is a common but powerful mineral found in his region. Our scientist are still working hard on decoding and translating the information but as you can see, this is quite valuable information.” She said as the texts of the shard were now projected on the dome above them. Even schematics of the technology that was required to extract the mineral from the ore were included.

Li could hear the Admirals whisper among one and other. He would have to guess what it was about. If the Chozo had technology on how to extract minerals from ore, who might know what else they were able to. “The shards do not only contain information on technology, they also have valuable information on Chozo history, society but also star charts and what not. Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot stress the importance of this archaeological treasure we have here. It is of the utmost importance that we collect these shards to firstly secure the Chozo legacy and secondly, keeping it from falling into the wrong hands.”

Li subtly nodded his head. Yes, he definitely had made the right decision. The prospect of hunting shards inside unfamiliar space on a state of the art Federation Starship perhaps in itself his very dream that just became true. “Can you tell me how many shards have been found so far?” Admiral West stepped forward and answered that particular question. “We have been operating in this part of space for 8 years now and including our latest find we have found, retrieved and catalogued 47 shards. More than any other faction has been able to do so far.” The Federation minister who asked the question seemed to be satisfied. “Admiral, if your mission is to retrieve ALL shards, what about the ones that are in possession of other factions?” Another Admiral asked. “We know that the Felwar has about 20 of them. Though we are allied, we do no have opened diplomatic channels in order to exchange shards and data but I can imagine that at some point we will.” “What about shards that are in Gyor possession?” The Admiral rebutted the question. “Good question. All I can say is that it is unlikely that the GYor are able to retrieve the information inside, which is a good thing. When opportunity arises to retrieve them, we will certainly will.” West replied.

Calyssa used the neural interface to access the Chozo star chart of The Reach and she displayed it on the ceiling. “The locations of the found shards are here. Some shards also contain information on where to find other shrines. Keeping our search going will automatically direct us to new shards and new information. Now that we have reached the conclusion of our excursion to this historical site, we will continue to this star system close by where Captain Eyjali is leading an expedition to hopefully retrieve another shard. Are there any remaining questions before we head back?” Calyssa asked. “Seeing that there are none, I suggest we head back to the shuttle.”



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