– II –
The first thing she noticed, as she always did when having stepped onto the bridge over the last few days, was the far too busy and colorful nebula on the large forward facing view screen. While most everyone else on the ship found the sight mesmerizing, to her it was disturbing, more like a feverish, drug-induced nightmare than a spectacle of nature.
More interesting to her was the fact that the sensor array sitting just a few hundred meters from their starboard bow was now practically fully assembled. It wasn’t much to look at really, and not too different from most other long-range sensor platforms such as the Argus array for example. It wasn’t much more than a collection of large hexagonal pallets merged together to form a single, powerful array, calibrated just right to be able to spy through the nebula and far into Dominion held territory. It really fulfilled much the same function as the Argus array, except that the subspace telescope had been far too exposed and had ultimately become an easy and early target of Dominion forces. This sensor platform on the other hand was hidden deep within the Aphrodite nebula in a place the Dominion was unlikely to suspect and even less likely able to traverse.
Tazla Star had not come to the bridge to inspect the nearly completed sensor array. Instead she turned to the aft stations lining the bridge. She found a number of crewmembers and civilian engineers busy at the engineering and mission ops station, overseeing the construction efforts from here as well as from engineering. Only a single officer occupied the Science I console and it was him she had come to see. She stepped right up to the officer, not wishing to be overheard by the rest of the bridge. “What do you have for me, Lieutenant?”
Lance Stanmore turned and looked up at the first officer. “The computer just finished the analysis of that subspace noise you had me check out.”
Intrigued she placed a hand on the back of his chair and another on the console and then leaned in closer. “Were you able to get a positive identification?”
“You mean other than to say that it’s nothing more than subspace noise?” the blonde-haired junior lieutenant said and offered a smirk. When he noticed that the Trill was not in a joking mood, he quickly wiped it off his face. “Uh, no, sir, sorry. However, there are some characteristics here that could possibly hint that this was indeed a deliberate subspace message.”
He quickly manipulated the controls and it brought up a severely eroded waveform pattern on the screen. Over eighty percent of it however were completely missing.
Stanmore didn’t miss her skeptical eyes. “I’m afraid this was all the computer was able to recover,” he said and then pointed at two visible spikes on the screen. “See these patterns here? According to the computer there are roughly sixty-eight known communication patterns that would fit that particular wavelength.”
“No way to narrow that down?”
“I’m afraid not,” he said. “The computer still believes with a seventy-six percent probability that we’re looking at nothing more than random subspace noise here.”
The first officer considered that for a second. “Alright, let’s assume for a moment we know that this isn’t subspace noise. How about we enter those variables in the computer. Tell it to treat it as a communication burst, encrypted and sent out only to mimic subspace noise. What would be the most likely result?”
“One moment,” he said and entered Star’s hypothesis into the computer.
Within a few seconds the display changed to overlay a wide variety of patterns on the existing remnant. Most were quickly dismissed as incompatible. At the end thirty-eight remained as possible matches.
The beta-shift operations officer looked over his shoulder to find Star’s sharp gaze focused on the screen. “None of these make any sense,” he said.
But the first officer was still thinking. Then she looked him directly in the eye. “On the contrary, Lieutenant, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for,” she said and handed him a padd. “Transfer your findings, please.”
“Yes, sir,” he said and quickly did as he was told and returned her padd.
Star turned on her heels and headed back towards the turbolift, convinced that she now had in her possession the missing link to turn her theories into hard evidence which would allow her to for once and for all reveal the spy operating on board and bring his activities to an end.