Muriel tasked additional officers to managing comms. SICI was working overtime with decryption and translation. The number of signals & signatures blasting around in space was growing. More ships appeared, multiple responses came in. The bridge was a flurry of activity as the CO obsessed over the holomap. Tactically the situation was very poor. If things went well with providing a negotiating place for whatever warring parties they’d stumbled upon then a tactical solution would not be required. “Commander we’ve got something for you!”
Comms must have cracked it finally. “I’ve got a near-perfect match to this transmission already in the translation matrix …. And in running through archives I found a partial match to the encryption protocol as well,” SICI seemed pleased at the discovery.
The commander was less enthusiastic. “Play it on speaker,” she answered, “and trawl the archives for whoever we’ve just rediscovered. Save it for me for later.”
“Already collating it. I’ll provide the data when convenient.”
SICI was underrated by most commanders. Her utility was indispensable. "Unknown spacecraft, this is captain Lyra Bowyer of the Cindorian vessel Shadow Star. We are preparing to send a two-party away team to rendezvous with your vessel with the intent of peaceful diplomacy. Requesting confirmation of broadcast."
Muriel gave the comms officers the go-ahead to respond with confirmation. “Vessel Shadow Star, this is Destiny Ascendant confirming intent to receive away team in main hangar, over.”
A myriad of new signals joined the fray all at once. Comms worked hastily to identify it. “We’ve got another communication incoming along with some subspace disturbances. Translation matrix is finishing up and we’re working to piece together the subspace data. What we have is still screwy but it looks like another acknowledgement of envoy dispatch. They’ve included a stipulation that we stand down entirely.”
The subspace data finished compiling and Tactical was able to make a report. They’d isolated both a suspected FTL signature and a subspace sensor burst, but the stellar gravity well was interfering too much to get solid readings on the vessel itself. What the two officers did determine was that it was massive. The commander had departed the bridge, leaving the rookie XO in charge while she prepped to receive the inbound away teams. A third communication came through, this one decoding quicker.
"This is Fleet-Master Rah Nar'Kolimee of the Covenant. I have decided to grant you the blessing of my attendance to the talks. Prepare for my arrival. If you decide to eliminate me during my stay, however. Know that your end will come swiftly like thunder."
The lieutenant sighed. Muriel would be very unhappy about this one. “Commander, we got another one,” he called grimly, “but this one will be more problematic than the rest I suspect.”
“Absolutely fantastic,” she scoffed over her headset relaying to the bridge.
She made her way towards the hangar bay. Both strike teams had already moved there to enforce a perimeter. She called to SICI to have a projection with her as a translator. The various translation matrices were still rough, but they’d have to do for initial contact. It was an occupational hazard they would hit a glitch and offend someone. In this case though Muriel had every intent of doing that herself, at least with the one who was bold enough to threaten them.
“Commander, we have five large contacts breaking stealth rather close by. They appear to be of the entity identifying itself as ‘the covenant’,” the XO reported.
“What have they said exactly?” she requested, not knowing word for word yet.
Her grip impulsively tightened aggressively around the hilt of her sidearm. “Lock all starboard turrets on the nearest covenant vessel and charge capacitors to full,” she snarled angrily.
“Commander do we intend to aggress on an enemy that outnumbers us five to one with larger, presumably superior vessels?”
“Just be ready lieutenant,” she barked, “I big guns backing big words if that’s what this comes to.”
She made her way into the hangar bay to await anything and everything coming their way. “This is going to be a shitshow …” she muttered over the comms channel that SICI, the marine Sergeant, and the bridge could all hear.