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A Mystery Explosion

Posted on Mon Apr 18th, 2016 @ 7:26am by Lieutenant Lixor Nabohn

Mission: Anarchy among us
Location: Gladiator :: Science Labs
Timeline: After 'Checking Out the Hole in the Wall'


The half Bolion Assistant Chief of science was busy pondering what all the data meant. It wasn't the first time he had needed to review evidence and make decisions based on it but with the particular chemical being used and the treat on Angel's life he felt far more reminiscent than usual.

Lixor studied the chemical makeup and waited for the analysis to finish. As it did he looked more than a bit puzzled, "Belotin Nine, how did they manage to get the chemical from there?" His eyebrows raised slightly then turned to the group, "someone seems to have gone out of their way to acquire the cleaning fluid. Belotin Nine is on the edge of federation space and quite a distance from here."

"Why would someone go out of their way to get it?" Nicola Storm, a chemist, asked. The fourth year cadet was helping to analyze the makeup of the chemicals and looked at the results.

"Maybe whoever planted this stuff had obtained it at a starbase, or a previous mission?" Teral offered. He mused before adding, "unless this had been planned for a while it doesn't really add up."

T'Madh did not look up from the display she was examining as she spoke, "Lieutenant, Cadet, it is illogical to make the assumption that the chemicals were directly sourced from Belotin Nine for the purposes of making a bomb and not just locally sourced or stolen from local supplies on an ad-hoc basis. I am finding residue patterns that point to a theory that we have multiple ignition sources. Lieutenant, permission to begin an multi-variate isotope analysis to determine if we can cross-reference and build a three-dimensional timeline and plan of the multiple explosive sources."

"Thank you T'madh," Lixor said, "go ahead with the analysis."

He smiled in spite of himself and then looked at the other scientist. "Perhaps the ships logs might clue us into why it was allowed on the ship if it was sanctioned." He paused for a moment then added, "probably not though, seems rather illogical to allow it on in the first place."

Nodding, the Vulcan got up and walked through one of the doors to the chemistry lab. Putting on an protective suit, she began preparing a liquid nitrogen cannister ready for use with the science labs's scanning electron microscopes.

When it was ready, she had the computer lay down an osmium conductive low-vacuum sputter coating on each of the collected samples into an SEM tray.

After a few minutes, the tray was ready and mechanical arms loaded it into the SEM chamber before T'Madh returned to the main lab where the others were working. A pipe to the exterior of the ship was opened, venting the atmosphere in the sample chamber, and then closed to prevent contamination.

The electron gun activated and T'Madh watched the screen as the machine scanned the sample. She checked the X-Ray Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy elemental composition results and directed the computer to determine probable chemical signatures.

By checking the byproducts and isotope signatures, T'Madh knew that she would be able to determine a timeline. The Vulcan did not have to wait before three major chemicals were found -

The blue man glanced over at the Vulcan's work but remain where he was for a moment letting his attention return to to the group and continuing to discuss possibilities with the other scientists, "have we determined anything about what possible delivery methods they used to get the components to their desired location without them going off?"

Storm glanced at the data T'Madh was getting before replying to Lixor. "Looking at their composition, I think it would be safe to say that they were separate prior to their placement at the desired location, and once they were ready to be planted they were then combined. Could whatever container they put it in have separate compartments that divided the compounds until that barrier disappeared?"

"It would make sense for their holding container to have dividers," Teral added to the chemist. Tapping on the console, he pulled up an image of a container, the computer showing a cross section of the inside. "Something like this can be programmed to combine the chemicals by removing the divider... but it's not a normal function of this model of container."

"Perhaps an engineer programmed it?" Nicola suggested, looking at the image.

Teral shrugged. "Really anyone with a basic knowledge of programming can do it. It's simply a matter of setting a timer if you want the compounds to combine when you're not around."

He looked back over at T'Madh and cocked his head no longer able to retain his curiosity. He stood and walked over towards the machine and watched as the results displayed on the screen, "sounds more dangerous than I expected," he said as he read off the results, "this isn't the typical mixture unless..." Placing his thumb along his jaw line and resting his curled index finger on the front of his chin he tried to remember which companies produced the stronger variants of the cleaner, "unless it was to be used to strip polar covalent bonded arsenic trioxide from the drillers."

Teral looked at Lixor and blinked. "For the non-chemist in the room, that translates to...?"

Lixor smiled broadly as he prepared to answer, "when you drill for certain minerals there are certain chemicals used to make that drilling easier." he tilted his head and motioned with his hands as if lifting something, "when the bit of the drill is removed there is a layer brownish grey gunk attacked to it that must be removed it it is to be used again. If it is really hard to remove certain cleaners are needed to make that job easier." He breathed in and furrowed his brows, "I hope that helps... at least some."

Taking a moment to comprehend what the assistant chief said, Teral nodded. "Some," he replied. Crossing his arms, he bit the inside of his cheek before asking, "ok, so we're dealing with a cleaner that becomes explosive when mixed with other chemicals, if I'm getting this right?"

"Yes and when exposed to an environment without gravity it becomes worse," he nodded towards the man, "it also creates a gas as it evaporates that can be extremely combustible." He shook his head, "that is why it is banned for use on starships and other areas where a adequate gravity is not present."

Teral nodded in response.

Nicola turned to Teral and gave him a smirk. "Sweetie, you may hurt your brain if you think too hard about it," she joked.

Teral turned toward her and replied, "hey, I'm trying to learn something new here." That earned a chuckle from the other woman before she left to her own devices, and Teral turned back to Lixor. "Alright, so can we use what we got to figure out who planted it?"

"Well," Lixor said tilting his head, "whoever planted knew enough to get it aboard, devise a method to combine the two components without endangering themselves and to cover their tracks." He smirked a little as he continued, "they had to have connections to get the material and the knowledge on how they would work together. So who worked on a mining colony?"

"That sounds like something to ask the Kelstar's computer," Nicola responded from her little corner. "Or at least do some digging in the database."

"If the records on the Kelstar have been tampered with, though, then we won't know if our results are authentic or not," Teral countered.

The chemist frowned and crossed her arms. He had a point. "What about that guy who came over from there? Philip, or Francis, I don't remember his name? Didn't he bring something with him?"

"Than we should find out what he had," Lixor replied taking in a deep breath and turning his attention to the chemist, "I'm sorry that we don't have evidence that points directly to one person right now but it does help narrow down the possibilities."

Nicola turned back towards Lixor and gave a small smile. "It does help narrow it down. Any bit helps, right, sir?"



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