OtherSpace: “Missing” – Log 5: Suspended in Shadow

In this continuation of the main OtherSpace storyline, Griffin Bright seeks volunteers to search for his father and other members of the missing New Amundsen expedition:

Griffin Bright steps into the conference room, PDA in hand, and takes a seat at the table. As he settles into the cushioned chair, he studies the electronic pad and twists his mouth into a scowl. “It doesn’t look that old…” And yet, his brow furrows. “Still, wouldn’t hurt to get the new model.”

natalie walks into the conference PDA in one hand “cup of tea in the other ” Good morning, Mr. Bright. I apologize it’s taken this long for us to meet. I’m Natalie Moore., Public affairs officer…The Ghanli’s gotten to you too huh. I greatly admire persistence but there is also such a thing as listening to the customer. I’d give the newest model at leas 3 months until they’ve worked out the kinks “

A Demarian peers through the doorway, ears forward and whiskers bristled inquisitively. “Ah good, found it,” she murmurs, mostly to herself, it seems. She too settles into a chair and nods in acknowledgement to Natalie. “He was quite ah… hm. Indefatigable.” Seemingly satisfied with her word choice, the felinoid then shifts her attention to Griffin. “Blackears Heartseeker. The Senate sent me in hopes that I could be of some use in finding the lost expedition.”

Pablo Bellarte stands near the entryway, wearing a station security uniform. He is busy chomping away on some gum as he looks around the conference room. There’s no effort to find a seat as of yet.

Tilsworth enters into the conference room, cane tapping away as he makes his way to a seat. “Greetings once again, young Bright.” the nonagenarian says, as he makes his way to a seat. His own PDA is set upon the table as he sits, upon it a wide variety of statistics and readings.

Not long after Tilsworth enters, a black furred Demarian appears at the doorway, taking a couple steps in. “I heard you were looking to send another expedition down to the planet. Survival is my specialty. If you need more manpower, I’m in.” he says

Next to enter the conference room is a reptiloid clad in black armor. Luta of Hatch Vril gnashes her fangs as she bobs her snout in the direction of the human at the head of the table. However, she doesn’t immediately speak to him or anyone else. She just takes up a position with her back to the bulkhead. Observing. Listening.

Griffin Bright tilts his head, sets the PDA on the table, and then says: “Thank you all for coming. We are sending another team down. However, we’re not going in blind.” He looks toward Tilsworth. “I’m going to want a full sensor survey of the region where Dad’s team vanished. Once we know more about the area, I’ll feel better about delving into it. I thought for certain the first team would’ve had that data stored here on Meriwether. For some reason, though, not a byte of information suggesting they did any research ahead of time. Which, y’know, seems wildly irresponsible.”

Blackears’ eponymous appendages flatten against her skull briefly as the Nall enters, but she says nothing on the subject, instead shifting her gaze back to Griffin. “And they didn’t send any information back once they made planetfall either?” She asks, one ear canting to the side inquisitively. “That seems doubly odd.”

Natalie says, “All indications were your father deemed the work critically important. No scientist worth anything doesn’t do research. A computer expert I am not but you might want to have one take a look for encrypted data and the like. It has to be somewhere.”

Tilsworth nods. “I actually anticipated we would need the information, therefore since my arrival I have been performing detailed scans of their last known position. The terrain is rather rough. A rather thick jungle environment, rather hilly terrain surrounded by high mountains. The potential for various hiding places is rather substantial. The rocks of the area seem to contain minerals that are interfering with the sensors, I have applied some sensor adjustments and signal processing but it has only helped so much. I have some potentially non-indigenous life readings, but they are scattering due to the interference. There are at least seven potential sources of the signals, but thankfully they are within a 10 square kilometer area. The indigenous life signals however are rather intense.”

Longfur listens carefully. “Hiding places for indigenous life as well as non-indigenous. A narrower search area is better but it still sounds like we’re going in half blind.”

Griffin reviews the data provided by Tilsworth. “That’s still a lot of ground to cover. I’m ordering new datapads and additional electronic survey equipment. That Gahnli knows an Odarite who might be able to get his hands on some military-grade scanning hardware.”

The Nall huffs through her nostrils. “The Striking Blade is equipped with the best military sensors in the galaxy.”

“Ten square kilometers is still a lot of ground to cover,” Blackears muses. “A lot of the physical traces on the surface will probably be gone already, unfortunately.” She shifts her gaze to Latuvril briefly, one of her ears canting to the side. “Hrr. Using the Nall ship’s sensors would save some time.” The Demarian shrugs. “Who knows if the Odarite will actually be able to get you military-grade equipment, or how long it would take to obtain. The faster we can get down there, the better.”

Natalie hms. “I’m assuming military grade scanners can distinguish biosignatures, yes? I mean somehow distinguish a nall from a human and so forth. that would certainly help”

“Assuming they can cut through the interference.” Tilsworth says. “It is my belief this is one reason why there is no data from an earlier scan. They tried, and failed, to gather the data and simply gave up the attempt. As our Demarian friend here suggests, they went in not only half blind, they likely went in totally blind.” he says.

“No,” Griffin says. “They didn’t try and fail. They gathered data. I talked to Dad before the expedition. It’s just that whatever they gathered that was here is…gone now.”

“If they did, and it is gone, then it was deleted deliberately. Data doesn’t just disappear.” Longfur says. “Which then makes one think, why. There is more going on here than just a missing expedition. Someone wants to keep something hidden… either the team itself, or something they may have discovered.”

Blackears nods in agreement, her snout wrinkling a bit. “This gets more and more interesting. If there’s no historical information about the planet, I suppose we’ll have to go see for ourselves what they found. It could be any of a number of things.” She pauses a moment, her ears laying back briefly. “Let’s just try to make sure we don’t disappear, too.”

The Nall tilts her snout, grunting. “I agree that data does not simply vanish. Before we endanger ourselves on the planet below, we should, I think, investigate any hazards awaiting us here, aboard Meriwether Station. Perhaps a saboteur?”

Tilsworth puts a hand to his chin. “Hmm. If there is a saboteur aboard, I doubt they came aboard in.. how you would say… legitimate circumstances. I could use the internal sensors to scan for life signs that are not in the station registry… though if they are clever enough to wipe the data, they may have hacked the registry as well.”

Griffin nods slowly, considering the old man’s assessment. “Might as well check that out. Although…” He looks around the table at each person in turn before his gaze settles on Tilsworth once more: “What if the person who wiped the data – and, possibly hacked the registry – was part of the expedition?”

“Hrr. You’re probably right,” Blackears notes, somewhat hesitantly nodding in agreement with the Nall and the two humans. “It stands to reason that if there’s a saboteur, we should look here first, lest we risk the same fate as the first expedition. I’m just not sure what I can do to help you in your search on board. Computers aren’t exactly my strong suit.” The Demarian shrugs, her ears laying slightly back as her tail flicks uneasily.

“Hrrrr.. if they did, it was done just prior to departure. Suddenly missing data would have raised, as you say, eyebrows if done too early.” Longfur says. “I’m willing to take a look at the computers. I’m not an expert, but I’ve done my share of investigations with the Guard.”

Natalie says, “If you need legwork after you’ve gone through all the tech wizardry with the systems. a hacker I’m not but I’ve done my share of research and investigation than just about anything else. You find me actual data, i’ll sift it.”

The Nall commander lashes her tail back and forth. “Interrogate your security personnel,” she suggests, scraping the armor on her abdomen with clawed fingers. “Vigorously. Someone must know something.”

Tilsworth furrows his brow a bit. “Hmmm. I agree they should be questioned, but I doubt they need to be, as one would say, beaten with a strap. Still, the situation does suggest a lapse.”

Blackears eyes the reptiloid somewhat uneasily, one of her brow ridges elevating slightly as her ears lay completely back, tucked tightly enough that their tufted tips meet behind her head. “I’d like to think we can do better than accosting random security officers for information,” she says, shaking her head. Her tail gives a couple of erratic flops against the leg of her chair, then lays still. She looks back to Tilsworth and Griffin. “I’ll help however I can, in any case.”

“I don’t think it needs to be random,” Griffin says, his attention shifting from the Nall to Blackears. “We should probably focus on senior personnel with clearances to modify data in the Meriwether Station computer core.”

“Hrrrr…. Sandmother forgive me, but I agree with the Nall.” Longfur says. “There is no need for direct harm, but they do need interrogated sufficiently to get out of them what we need to know.” He holds up a paw, his claws extended. “I think one of us with.. built in tools…. should do it. The idea of being disembowled often makes a suspect spill their guts verbally rather than have them on the floor.” he says with a bit of a toothy grin.

The other Demarian wrinkles her snout a bit, her head bobbing in a curt nod after a few moments. “Intimidation I could get behind,” she agrees. “Distasteful, perhaps, but then, this whole business seems a bit distasteful.” Blackears gives a shrug and taps one claw on the table. “And you’re right, I spoke… without enough thought. Apologies.” More claws join the first, clicking quietly on the smooth surface as she eyes Longfur sidewise. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were enjoying this idea,” she notes wryly, her whiskers bristling as she too bares a flash of teeth in a slight grin.

Griffin gives a faint shrug, then says, “OK. So the current priorities are to build up a new database of sensor data on the search zone and to determine the cause of the lost data from our computer core.” A nod toward Latuvril. “Our Nall friends will help with the scans.”

Latuvril hisses softly. She clacks her fangs. “I am also willing to supply additional motivation for any interrogation targets.”

Let me know how I can help with the interviews or anything” Natalie offers,”even if you want someone to stand there quietly and make observation”

Tilsworth nods. “I shall provide what scans we have done so we can coordinate detailed scanning to fill in the gaps.”

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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