Black Hole Theory

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OOC Date: April 20, 2011
IC Date: January 31, 2128

The Chief Engineer briefs Commander Eisley about the portable black hole, proposing her best theory about its purpose as a long-range communication device. A test of its capabilities is planned.

Chief of Engineering's Office - Deck One

Her office is not much more organized or orderly than the machine shop just outside. The central focus of the room is a large desk with several computer terminals, a comfortable chair sat behind it. Two less comfortable chairs are placed before the desk for anyone wishing to sit during a meeting. Meetings with the Chief of Engineering, however, are rather infrequent. Most people don't want to be around her unless they have to be. The rest of the room is taken up by shelves filled with gadgets modern and antique, a cluttered museum of technology over the last century. Or maybe it's just things that she's still needing to fix. It's hard to tell. Atop a single end table sits a 4 foot tall stuffed monkey - those who call it a teddy bear get the full wrath of the diminutive despot - known as Mr. Moto, her trusty assistant.

Monoko sits at her desk, fingers rapidly fluttering over the keyboard of her computer terminal, three separate displays set up around her. Her attention flickers from screen to screen as she works, all three displays scrolling vast amounts of information in response to her typing. She's clearly multitasking, and how she manages to do it is anyone's guess. Maybe she really does feed on the tears of her subordinates and gain their strength.

If Mono feeds on the tears of her subordinates, one can only wonder what terrible diet Commander Eisley exists on. The XO should be expected, technically; this meeting has been a long while in coming, and though she has been patient about reception of a report from this department, one just cannot leave the little engineer who could alone with her hole in a box for too terribly long. So. The access panel chimes to announce her presence, as much of a knock as she is liable to give, under the circumstances, and a moment or so later the door hisses open and lets her come through.

"I'm just finishing up on something," Monoko states without looking up or over at the Commander as she enters. A few more seconds of rapid typing and the Engineer finishes, sinking back in her seat with a sharp exhale, another job finished. Now, she turns her attention to the other woman and gestures towards an open seat on the opposite side of her desk. The giant stuffed monkey watches dispassionately. "I am about ninety percent certain as to what the black hole does," she informs the Commander. "At first we thought it was a mode of transportation, but I eliminated that possibility pretty quickly. They seem to travel by some other means. Since a black hole really only has two purposes - to move things from one place to another, or to simply destroy them - that only left me with a couple of options. While a black hole would make an awesome trash compactor, I figured it's destructive element wasn't the main factor, which got me thinking… If it's not being used to move the ship, what else would they want to move long distances in the blink of an eye?"

Eisley is apparently content to wait until really recognized, time she spends looking around the office without actually touching anything. Yes, this means that she comes eye to eye with the monkey for a moment or two, but even that is not enough to throw her off. Eventually she settles into a chair and there listens to this outpouring of information with wary interest. Note the loft of one eyebrow. "…junk mail?" This first comment is a dry answer to a rhetorical question, not at all serious, but -just- shy of lacking in discernible humor.

Mono smirks faintly at the almost-joke. "Close," she allows. "I suppose I should start with the fact that we've discovered that the ship came from the Corona Borealis Supercluster, which is over 500 billion light years away. We figure this, because all the star maps in the database were from that area. They only had a very partial map of our galaxy, as if they had just started making it. So, if you're going to travel 500 billion light years from home, you don't exactly want to send a message that's going to take 500 billion years to get back there. Combined with the fact that the alien metal that encloses it has no moving parts and seems to contain the singularity while serving as a conductor for energy pointed at it, I'm almost certain that it's for communications. Using a piece of software we salvaged from their ship's database, I believed I know how to focus the black hole like one would focus the lens of a telescope and send communications to that point instantaneously."

"…they were a long way from home," observes Eisley somewhat thoughtfully. "Which leads me to wonder if they came through the same wormhole we'll be venturing out of." This speculation is entertained for only a moment before she nods, though only once, at this bit about the black hole being a communications device. "It has always been easier to make data travel faster than more conspicuous matter. I imagine that you still want to test this theory of yours." Her last statement here is even more thoughtful. Not wary, yet but given over to tremendous consideration.

"Easier, yes, but not easy enough to cover that kind of distance in anything resembling an acceptable amount of time," Monoko counters. "If the box doesn't move the ship, it doesn't open, and even if it did it isn't big enough to even transport a human being, what else would it be for? Communication seems like the likely answer. You can call home instantly from anywhere. You can even use it to communicate while cloaked, since your transmission technically never leaves the ship. There are, however, two drawbacks to this method of communication as I see it. First of all, you need to know a pretty exact location for where you want to send the message. Second, you can't really communicate with just one. The person on the other end can hear whatever you send them, but they can't really answer anywhere near as quickly without one of their own."

Eisley quirks a brow. "It is a black hole. Even a small one could suck in a lot of very important things if left unattended…" Really, in that respect, size doesn't matter. Her gaze slides to the displays, skimming over them briefly while she reflects on this information. Her consideration is a slow thing, measured in minutes, maybe, though not in spans of hours. "Is it possible to pick a destination for the information, then? Or is it locked to a single point? It seems as though it would be of tremendous use to any long-range exploration detail, but loses some of its usefulness if there is no way to facilitate two-way communication."

"I am well aware that it can be the size of a pinhead and still suck this entire ship inside of it," Monoko replies blandly, "At which point it would crush everything to fit it inside. At its current size, it can't transport much of anything without damaging it. And no, I think I can point it pretty much anywhere. The problem, like I said, is replying from the other end. Without a second box at the other end of the signal, any reply would have to be the old fashioned way."

"…interesting." Eisley settles back in the chair and brings her hands together, though only her index fingers steeple. They rise to a point just under her chin and tap there a couple of times, measuring out these thoughts of hers though in no clearly meaningful fashion. "I must admit that I am not certain that it would behoove us to test this, other than to simply satisfy curiosity. Just now there is no one for us to communicate -with- other than, say, to send a message to whomever is already set as the listening point on the other end." Another tap of the fingers brings that sober blue stare back to Mono. One brow lifts a bit, almost expectant.

"Iie," mutters Monoko with a shake of her head. "I don't think you see the entire picture. I could equip a shuttle to use it as advanced recon. We send out a shuttle on a predetermined course, and use the box to intermittently transmit back to us what ever the shuttle sees and scans. We have to stay still, so it would know where we are to send us a signal, but we could use it as an advanced scout before diving headlong into anything."

Surely that was where the expectancy came in: invitation for clarification. "That would be a practical application," Eisley acknowledges with a nod, which transitions into a hint of a smirk. "And it might make testing your theory safer than the alternative. If you are correct, this could be tremendously useful for our adventure through the wormhole."

"I was going to suggest using that as a test mission," Monoko agrees. "If I'm right, we get a look at what's on the other side without having to go through, no matter how far the wormhole may go, which is why I think the Snails never heard back from any of their probes or the ship they sent through - depending on how far away the other side is, any message back could be in transit for a very long time. If I'm wrong…" She shrugs. "It blows up on the other side of the wormhole, well away from us."

After one more moment, Eisley nods. Once. "All right. I'm sure I can get Captain Ramesh to sign off on that. We're going through anyway, and some advanced warning would be exceedingly useful. Finish preparations for your test. At current speed, we should reach the hole in about three days time." Which is a conservative estimate, even with the detour toward Tau Ceti. In this case, however, she is taking no chances, nor is she rushing toward this inevitable fate.

Mono nods once in reply. "Hai. It'll be ready before then." She chews at her lower lip in thought for a moment, considering how to approach something. "I think I should let you know, based on what we've been able to learn from the bits of the database we translated, the Devourer they had on board was a prisoner. It got loose. That's what led to the fight that killed everyone."

"Lieutenant Commander Bharti mentioned something to that effect," says the Commander. "She suggested that the parasites may have attempted to turn the Devourer into a host and failed. I am not yet willing to subscribe to the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend; we still know very little about those creatures, though I imagine more will be made clear when the translation is finished." Her hands lower into her lap, though remain folded together. It occurs to me to wonder if the ship came through carrying the parasites, and took advantage of hosts as they 'discovered' it." Endless speculation! It's what she does in her spare time.

"Iie," Monoko counters, shaking her head. "I think they came through with their hosts. I think the host aliens are their default hosts, since what little bit we've got from the database seams to include them. I couldn't tell you whether it's an agreed upon coexistence or forced slavery, but the parasites appear to be quite familiar with the hosts. The Snail was the anomaly." She frowns and considers something for a silent moment before finally speaking again. "I, if given a choice, would rather work with the parasites to destroy the Devourers than the other way around."

Eisley shakes her head. "I suppose we will find out, one way or the other. I don't know that there is any way -to- find out what the nature of the relationship is without one of us succumbing to it, and I am not in any hurry to allow that to happen to any member of this crew." All storyteller's hints to the contrary. "Though it seems strange to me that the most familiar of the aliens would be the ones from the furthest away. I had thought those would have been local to our galaxy at least."

Mono shrugs her slight shoulders. "I don't see why they'd be more likely to come from our galaxy than anywhere else, unless they were related to us in some way. Since there's likely no relation or connection, they may as well come from anywhere. If each galaxy has hundreds of solar systems, and each cluster has thousands of galaxies or more, and each Supercluster has countless clusters, you eventually get to the mathematical point where it's possible that there are actual humans almost exactly like us somewhere else out there among all the stars. If you have a broad enough pool to sample from, anything becomes possible."

"Those are the aliens that are rumored to have visited Earth. They are also, apparently, more like humans than either of the other alien species that we encountered. I realize that everything is possible and that everything, eventually, happens, I just find it peculiar that those -seem- to be the aliens from our racial memory. Not that it matters greatly at this point." The Commander merely shakes her head, apparently dismissing this particular idea, though after a second she smirks. "It is entirely possible that we may eventually find a whole planet full of humans somewhere, either because they were taken from Earth a long time ago, or because we were taken from some other planet at a point even further in the past. It may just be one of the great mysteries of the universe that we will never answer, mind you."

Monoko furrows her brow. "You mean Grays? Aren't they supposed to be, you know, gray? These guys are yellow. And papery. I mean, I guess I can see some resemblance, but I always thought that Grays were just made up, anyway." Another shrug. "I have no idea what's out there, or what we'll find. I guess we'll figure it out as we go along."

Eisley smiles, thinly. "Gray, yellow, green… who really knows?" She shakes her head. "We will find out soon enough." And on that note she rises out of the chair, though spends a second straightening her uniform out, smoothing what few wrinkles sitting might have created. "I'll sign shuttle one out for your testing setup. Let me know when everything is in place."

A salute, or at least standing when the Commander does would generally be the proper etiquette in this situation, but Monoko is never one for proper etiquette. She remains seated, sunk back in her chair, nodding as she watches the other woman rise and straighten her uniform. "I will keep you posted, Commander. As soon as it's ready to go, I'll let you know."

It's probably noted, but Eisley doesn't comment on it. She merely nods, but hesitates - briefly - before. "Is there anything else?" Again a brow is quirked, just so, once more opening the door for additional commentary.

"I don't know," Monoko muses curiously, tilting her head just a bit. "Is there?"

Eisley's other brow lifts too and for a moment she too looks curious. It was largely conversational, this inquiry, and it hangs in the air for only a moment before she shakes her head. "I will let you get back to whatever you were doing. Tell Seaman Shevchenko that I am looking forward to her report as well, though not before she has had at least eight solid hours of sleep." XO: executive officer, ship's babysitter, and general crew status monitor. It's a thankless job.

"I've pretty much given you everything we have, since she's currently buried in translating their database. If she finds out any other interesting information, I'll definitely have her report to you." Monoko tugs at her lower lip with her teeth, perhaps thinking about something, but whatever it is she leaves it unsaid for now. "I'll make sure she gets some sleep."

"Please do." And that, it seems will be the end of that; Eisley tilts her head and then turns to vacate the office.

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